What is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's disease is an inflammatory disease that can affect any part of a person's digestive tract including the mouth, stomach and anus. Crohn's disease most often targets the ileum - the bottom portion of the small intestine.
The Causes of Crohn's Disease
Although, research hasn’t been able to pinpoint the exact cause of Crohn's disease, the inflammation is believed to be a result of the body's immune response to foreign substances and infections. However, the trigger of inflammation in Crohn’s disease is still unknown.
Some evidence suggests that there may be a genetic component to Crohn's disease. This is because as many as 20-25 percent of patients with Crohn's disease are related to someone else with the disease. However, no simple correlation exists between parent and offspring.
There is also a higher incidence of Crohn's disease among some ethnic groups as well as in certain environments. For example, those living in Western or industrialized societies show a higher rate of contracting the disease.
The Characteristics of Crohn's Disease
Crohn's disease is characterized by active periods and inactive periods. The active periods are known as flare-ups, where the individual experiences the symptoms that are associated with the disease.
The inactive periods are called remissions. The individual doesn't experience any of the symptoms associated with Crohn's disease during this time. These inactive periods tend to be longer and more frequent than active periods.
What are the Symptoms of Crohn's Disease?
The symptoms of Crohn's disease depend on where the inflammation occurs within the digestive tract and how severe it is. If the flaring is in the ileum, abdominal pain and diarrhea are frequently experienced. Other common symptoms include fever, nausea, weight loss, and fatigue.
How is Crohn's Disease Treated?
Crohn's disease is a chronic disease. The goal of the treatment is to reduce the symptoms of the disease and to bring on a period of remission for as long as possible. Crohn’s disease can be treated safely with medications and antibiotics.