Where Does Crohn’s Disease Occur?
Crohn’s disease is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) that originates in the gastrointestinal tract. Its symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of other conditions that affect the gut. That is why Crohn’s disease is often mistaken for less severe digestive problems.
Because of this, Crohn’s disease is usually diagnosed when digestive issues, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloating become too frequent and severe.
Although Crohn’s disease originates inside the digestive system, its causes are located elsewhere. Likewise, the negative effects of the disease are not limited to the gut.
Crohn’s disease can start anywhere, from mouth to anus, in the gastrointestinal tract. However, the most commonly affected gut area is the ileum. A portion of the small intestine that is connected to the colon.
The cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. Experts agree that the condition is similar to autoimmune disorders, but believe that, in the case of Crohn’s disease, the reaction of the immune system is caused by different factors. That is why Crohn’s disease is often referred to as immune-related condition.
The disease itself is not fatal but it can be a cause of some potentially fatal complications. There is no known cure for Crohn’s disease.
How do you get Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is not a contagious condition. It is not caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Therefore, it cannot be transferred from one person to another.
Also, Crohn’s disease cannot be contracted from some outside source or as a result of exposure to any environmental factor, toxin, or chemical.
It is a condition that develops in genetically predisposed individuals. However, researchers believe that triggers, such as immunodeficiency, bacterial infections, and even some psychosocial factors can activate the disease in predisposed individuals.
Once it is present, Crohn’s disease causes the immune system to attack the body, namely the intestines. The inflammation and damage done to the tissues and organs in this way can cause life-threatening complications and severely deteriorate the quality of life of the affected person.
Risk Factors of Crohn’s
Some risk factors increase the probability of the development of Crohn’s disease:
- Family history – Genetic predisposition plays an important role in the development of this condition. Around 20% of people with Crohn’s disease have a family member which is also affected.
- Ethnicity – Statistics show that Crohn’s disease affects white people (Ashkenazi Jews especially) more than other ethnic groups. However, individuals of all ethnicities can suffer from this condition.
- Smoking – This is a major preventable risk factor. Smoking also makes the symptoms of the disease worse. Quitting is strongly advised to everyone suffering from Crohn’s disease.
- Age – To most people, Crohn’s disease is diagnosed before the age of 30. Still, the condition can develop at any age.
- Living environment – Developed nations lead the statistics when it comes to the number of people affected by Crohn’s disease. Experts believe that the diet rich in fat and processed foods should be blamed for this trend.
- Use of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications – These medications do not contribute to the development of the disease but they can worsen the existing inflammation in individuals who are already affected.
Crohn’s Disease Symptoms?
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease are similar to the symptoms of other conditions that affect the digestive tract. They develop gradually and tend to appear in cycles, with periods of remission and recurring “bad” episodes.
During active periods of the disease the most common symptoms are:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Rectal bleeding
- Blood in the stool
- Eye inflammation
- Joint inflammation
- Skin and mouth sores
When Crohn’s disease develops at a young age, it can cause delayed growth. Sores and inflammation that occur in the lining of the intestine can cause fistulas, dysplasia, liver inflammation, and colorectal cancer.
Crohn’s disease cannot be cured. The condition progresses gradually and needs to be managed with a combination of medications, diet and, often, surgery.
Anti-inflammatory medications, such as corticosteroids, can help to reduce the inflammation.
Immune system suppressors are used to minimize the damage which the auto-immune response does to the gastrointestinal system.
Antibiotics play an important role too. When complications such as fistulas and abscesses occur, antibiotics prevent harmful bacteria from causing more damage, such as sepsis.
Tube feeding, vitamin shots, supplements, and other methods of nutrition that allow the intestines to rest are moderately helpful.
Surgical procedures are sometimes necessary to remove the parts of the intestine that are overly damaged. These procedures need to be followed with the above mentioned methods of disease control to provide satisfying results.
The Final Word
Crohn’s disease originates in the gastrointestinal tract, most commonly in the ileum. However, the causes of this condition are very complex. Researchers are only beginning to unlock the secrets of this disease. The condition’s effects on the body are much better understood and, although no cure for Crohn’s has been discovered, the disease can be successfully managed with diet, medications, and exercise.