What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition in the gastrointestinal tract, which is part of the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) category. Often, people mistake ulcerative colitis with Crohn’s disease. Although the symptoms are similar, the affected areas in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) are different.

Crohn's Disease
Patterns of Crohn’s Disease

The Crohn’s illness mostly affects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon, but it can also affect parts of the GI tract.

The disease can also affect the thickness of the bowel wall.

With ulcerative colitis, only the innermost lining of the colon is affected.

The inflammation that affects the intestine can “skip”, leaving normal areas in between patches of diseased intestine with Chron’s.

This variation of inflammation does not occur in ulcerative colitis.

How Do You know if You Have Chron’s Disease?

Any part of the GI tract can get infected.

The symptoms are as follows

  • Symptoms related to inflammation of the GI tract:
  • Persistent Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgent need to move bowels
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation
  • Constipation
  • General symptoms potentially associated with IBD
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle

There are times when those who have Chron’s disease may experience flare ups and other times when it is in remission with no signs or symptoms at all. This is known as chronic.
Immediate medical attention is required if pain and bleeding occurs, since this may be a sign of fissures, which is a tunnel that leads from one loop of intestine to another, or that connects the intestine to the bladder, vagina, or skin.

Causes of Crohn’s Disease?

Over 700,000 Americans of all ages are affected each year. This includes men and women equally. Teenagers and adults up to the age of 35 are known to have it most.
At this time, the causes of Crohn’s Disease are not fully understood, although aggressive research continues, recent research indicates if can come from hereditary, and/or environmental factors.

The process by which the disease develops when the immune system reacts abnormally in the GI tract; that is, besides attacking invading bacteria, such as viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms, it also attacks harmless bacteria, which produces inflammation and then chronic inflammation and results in inflammation. Subsequently, the affected person begins to then feel the symptoms of this response.

It is interesting to note that Chron’s disease is more common among families and in developed countries rather than undeveloped countries, urban centers compared to rural areas and in northern rather than southern climates.

The information on this video on Chron’s disease is very informative and well worth watching.

Please visit the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America to make a donation.