Can Crohn’s Disease Spread?
Digestive problems can be caused by many reasons. Most of these problems manifest with similar symptoms. Nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea can appear as a consequence of food poisoning, bacterial and viral infections, as well as chronic conditions such as coeliac and Crohn’s disease.
In some cases, digestive problems can spread from one person to another. This happens when the cause of gut discomfort is contagious. The best and the most famous example of such a digestive issue is norovirus. This viral infection can sweep through large populations in a short amount of time, especially in confined spaces such as schools, hospitals, hotels, and ships.
With chronic diseases, this is not the case. They develop gradually, over time, as a consequence of genetic and other factors. If a person suffers from Crohn’s disease, for example, it cannot pass it on to someone else.
To better understand why this is the case, we need to know more about Crohn’s disease, its causes, symptoms, and how it can be treated.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). It is a chronic condition that develops inside the gastrointestinal tract. Most commonly it originates in the ileum, a part of the small intestine that connects to the colon. However, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive system, from mouth to anus.
The main symptom of Crohn’s disease is the inflammation of the small intestine. The inflammation usually comes and goes in cycles. It causes gut discomfort and inhibits the proper function of the small intestine. Common results of this are malabsorption and anemia.
Other symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease are:
- Abdominal pain
- Intestinal sores (ulcers) and fistulas
- Rectal bleeding and bloody stools
- Weight loss
With Crohn’s disease, the inflammation is not restricted only to the digestive system. It can affect other areas of the body, too. Eye inflammation, ulcer-like sores called pyoderma gangrenosum, skin rashes, and joint inflammation are common.
How Does Crohn’s Disease Develop?
It is impossible to get “infected” with Crohn’s disease. The condition is not contagious and does not spread from person to person. Researchers know this with great certainty. However, they do not know what exactly causes Crohn’s disease.
It appears that Crohn’s disease is an immune system-related disease that develops in genetically predisposed individuals.
It is caused by some genetic, bacterial, dietary, vascular, psychosocial, and environmental factors that act as triggers for the immune system’s response.
So, Crohn’s disease is not an autoimmune disorder but its mechanism of action (the immune system attacking the body) is very similar.
The Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
The signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease are very similar to other gut conditions. However, the severity, frequency, and duration of these “common” symptoms can be a warning sign that it is time to visit a doctor.
The most common signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- Frequent bowel movement
- Strong abdominal pain
- Inability to pass gases
- Bloody stools
- Rectal bleeding
- Fever and chills
Some of these symptoms, such as vomiting, bloating, frequent bowel movement, and abdominal pain can often be overlooked and attributed to something else. However, if these symptoms are persistent and last for more than a week, it might be a good time to seek professional help.
The Risk Factors
Some groups seem to have a higher risk of developing Crohn’s disease. Historically, developed societies had a bigger problem with this condition. However, the statistics show that developing nations are rapidly catching up.
Cigarette smoking is by far the most important risk factor associated with Crohn’s disease. Those already affected by the condition are strongly advised to quit smoking.
Beside smokers, other high-risk groups include:
- Persons under the age of thirty
- People of white and Jewish ethnic background
- People with the family history of the disease (genetic predisposition)
Diet plays an important role too. Processed foods and fat increase the risk of Crohn’s disease.
There is no known cure for Crohn’s disease. The condition can be managed successfully with medications and changes in dietary habits and lifestyle.
The goal of these adjustments is to prolong the cycle of the disease and avoid frequent relapses. The recurrent episodes of the disease can also be made less intense.
Some people experience the worsening of the symptoms extremely rarely, still, this does not mean that they are cured.
So, Can Crohn’s Disease Spread?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. It develops under the effects of genetic and various other factors. The condition is not contagious as it is not caused by a particular virus or a bacteria and, although it is incurable, it cannot be spread from one person to the other.