Crohns Disease Information

Written by Jacey Harmon
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Crohn's disease gets its name from the doctor who first reported the disease in 1932. Dr. Crohn, and two colleagues, published a paper which identified the features of the disease which is now known as Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease is the second most common form of inflammatory bowel disease in the United States. Roughly seven out of every 100,000 people are affected by Crohn's disease.

Crohn's disease is a chronic disorder which causes inflammation of intestinal walls. The disease can affect any region of the digestive system or gastrointestinal tract. Though it can affect any region of the digestive system, it is most often found in the small intestine and/or colon. With Crohn's disease, there may be patches of healthy intestine between infected portions.

Crohn's disease causes an abnormal reaction from the body's immune system. The disease causes the immune system to treat otherwise harmless items in the intestine--food or other items--as invading foreign substances. The immune system dispatches white blood cells into the lining of the intestine, causing inflammation. The white blood cells then release a harmful product which in turn leads to several of the disease's symptoms.

Symptoms of Crohn's Disease

The disease has several symptoms which are most commonly related to the digestive system. Persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, and rectal bleeding are a few of the symptoms common to Crohn's disease. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, and fever. The disease is not just limited to the digestive tract. It can affect joints, eyes, skin, and the liver. Children afflicted the disease will experience slow sexual development and growth rates.

Patients may experience tears on the anus. This results in bloody stool and pain during bowel movements. The disease may also cause a fistula to form. A fistula is a tunnel which connects one loop of intestine to another. A fistula may also connect the intestine to the skin, liver, or vagina. Fistulas most commonly form in the anal region. Fistulas may cause leakage of pus, mucus, and even stool.

Crohn's disease experiences periods of activity and inactivity. This causes patients to experience periods in which symptoms are prevalent and highly bothersome. The disease can then go into remission, letting the patient live symptom free for a period of time. There is no cure for Crohn's disease, and medical treatment is aimed at reducing inflammation, managing remission periods, and replenishing lost nutrients.

Who Gets Crohn's Disease

Studies have shown the disease is a hereditary disease as 20 to 25 percent of patients have a blood relative with the disease. Those with a brother or sister afflicted with Crohn's disease have a substantially higher chance, about 30 times, of getting the disease than the general population. A person with a relative afflicted with Crohn's disease has a risk that is 10 times higher than the general population to develop the disease.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) seem to affect certain ethnic groups more than others. For instance, Jewish Americans of European decent are at higher risk to develop IBD than the general population. Inflammatory bowel diseases seem to affect the populations in the United States and Europe more than those in other regions of the world. The disease is more prevalent in northern regions than in southern regions. There is no evidence to suggest why this pattern exists.


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