What Crohns Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus.
Crohn’s disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Crohn’s disease can be both painful and debilitating and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications.
What are the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?
The Crohn’s Disease signs and symptoms often include abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is severe), fever, and weight loss. Other complications may occur outside the gastrointestinal tract and include anemia, skin rashes, arthritis, swelling of the eye, and tiredness.
In some people with Crohn’s disease, only the last segment of the small intestine (ileum) is affected.
In others, the disease is located in the colon (part of the large intestine).
The most common areas affected by Crohn’s disease are the last part of the small intestine and the colon.
The skin rashes may be due to infections as well as pyoderma gangrenosum or erythema nodosum.
Bowel obstruction may occur as a complication of chronic inflammation, and those with the disease are at higher risk of bowel cancer.
What Causes Crohn’s Disease?
While the cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, it is believed to be due to a combination of environmental, immune, and bacterial factors in genetically susceptible individuals.
It results in a chronic inflammatory disorder, in which the body’s immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract possibly directed at microbial antigens.
While Crohn’s is an immune-related disease, it does not appear to be an autoimmune disease (in that the body itself is not triggering the immune system).
The exact underlying immune problem is not clear; however, it may be an immunodeficiency state.
About half of the overall risk is related to genetics with more than 70 genes found to be involved.
Will Smoking Worsen Crohn’s Disease?
Tobacco smokers are twice as likely to develop Crohn’s disease as nonsmokers.
It also often begins after gastroenteritis.
Stopping smoking is recommended in people with Crohn’s disease.
Some study findings including biopsy and appearance of the bowel wall, medical imaging and description of the disease.
Other conditions that can present similarly include irritable bowel syndrome and Behçet’s disease.
What Are the Cures For Crohn’s disease?
There are no medications or surgical procedures that can cure Crohn’s disease.
Treatment options are intended to help with symptoms, maintain remission, and prevent relapse.
In those newly diagnosed, a corticosteroid may be used for a brief period to rapidly improve symptoms alongside another medication such as either methotrexate or a thiopurine used to prevent recurrence.
While there’s no known cure for Crohn’s disease, therapies can significantly reduce its signs and symptoms and even bring about long-term remission.
With treatment, many people with Crohn’s disease can function well.
One in five people with the disease is admitted to hospital each year, and half of those with the disease will require surgery for the disease at some point over a ten-year period.
While surgery should be the last resort or as little as possible, it is necessary to address some abscesses, certain bowel obstructions, and cancers.
Do I Need Regular Colonoscopies?
Checking for bowel cancer via colonoscopy is recommended every few years, starting eight years after the disease has begun.
Crohn’s disease affects about 3.2 per 1,000 people in Europe and North America.
Rates have, however, been increasing, particularly in the developing world, since the 1970s.
Inflammatory bowel disease resulted in 47,400 deaths in 2015, and those with Crohn’s disease have a slightly reduced life expectancy.
Crohns Disease Risk Factors
What age can Crohn’s disease occur? At any age, but you’re likely to develop the condition when you’re young.
Most people who develop Crohn’s disease get diagnosed before they’re 30 years old.
Although Crohn’s disease can affect any ethnic group, whites, and people of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish descent have the highest risk.
However, the incidence of Crohn’s disease is increasing among blacks who live in North America and the United Kingdom.
You’re at higher risk if you have a close relative, such as a parent, sibling or child, with the disease.
As many as 1 in 5 people with Crohn’s disease has a family member with the disease.
Cigarette or cigars smoking is the most important controllable risk factor for developing Crohn’s disease.
Smoking also leads to more severe disease and a higher risk of having surgery. If you smoke, it’s essential to stop.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve), diclofenac sodium (Voltaren) and others.
While they do not cause Crohn’s disease, they can lead to inflammation of the bowel that makes Crohn’s disease worse.
Location Location Location Where you live. If you live in an urban area or an industrialized country, you’re more likely to develop Crohn’s disease.
This suggests that environmental factors, including a diet high in fat or refined foods, may play a role in Crohn’s disease.
Crohns Disease Complications
Bowel obstruction. Crohn’s disease affects the thickness of the intestinal wall.
Over time, parts of the bowel can scar and narrow, which may block the flow of digestive contents.
You may require surgery to remove the diseased portion of your bowel.
Ulcers. Chronic inflammation can lead to open sores (ulcers) anywhere in your digestive tract, including your mouth and anus, and in the genital area (perineum).
Sometimes ulcers can extend completely through the intestinal wall, creating a fistula — an abnormal connection between different body parts.
Fistulas can develop between your intestine and skin, or between your gut and another organ. Fistulas near or around the anal area (perianal) are the most common kind.
When fistulas develop in the abdomen, food may bypass areas of the bowel that are necessary for absorption.
Where fistulas may occur between loops of intestine, into the bladder or vagina, or out through the skin, causing continuous drainage of bowel contents to your skin.
In some cases, a fistula may become infected and form an abscess, which can be life-threatening if not treated.
Anal Fissure. Small tear in the tissue that lines the anus or in the skin around the anus where infections can occur.
It’s often associated with painful bowel movements and may lead to a perianal fistula.
Diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramping may make it difficult for you to eat or for your intestine to absorb enough nutrients to keep you nourished.
It’s also common to develop anemia due to low iron or vitamin B-12 caused by the disease.
Having Crohn’s disease that affects your colon increases your risk of colon cancer. General colon cancer screening guidelines for people without Crohn’s disease call for a colonoscopy every ten years beginning at age 50.
Ask your doctor whether you need to have this test done sooner and more frequently.
Other health problems. Crohn’s disease can cause problems in other parts of the body.
Among these problems are anemia, skin disorders, osteoporosis, arthritis, and gallbladder or liver disease.
Specific Crohn’s disease drugs that act by blocking functions of the immune system are related to a small risk of developing cancers such as lymphoma and skin cancers. They also increase the risk of infection.
Corticosteroids can be associated with a risk of osteoporosis, bone fractures, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes, and high blood pressure, among others. Work with your doctor to determine the risks and benefits of medications.