What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can affect any part of the digestive tract, but often occurs at the end of the small intestine and in the bowel. Inflammation often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue, and can lead to serious complications such as intestinal blockages, ulcers, and fistulas.
Crohn’s disease is unpredictable. At times the symptoms are acute, and at other times the disease goes into remission and the symptoms disappear. When the inflammation flares up, the painful and debilitating symptoms make it difficult to maintain a regular daily routine.
No one knows the cause of Crohn’s disease. It affects men and women equally. Symptoms can show up at any age, but appear most commonly between the ages of 15 and 35. Heredity is a contributing factor – 20% of Crohn’s patients have a close relative with the disease. It is more common in industrialized countries and urban areas, suggesting that environmental triggers or a diet of refined foods might play a role. It could be that in susceptible people, the immune system overreacts to a virus or bacterium, and begins to attack cells in the digestive tract. Poor diet, stress, and smoking aggravate the inflammation.
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but therapies and medications can help control the symptoms and even produce a long-term submission.