What is Crohn’s Disease? Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s Disease is an inflammation of the digestive tract and bowel disease. Inflammation caused in the digestive tract leads to fatigue, abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea, malnutrition, and unexplained weight loss. The effect of the disease largely varies from person to person.

Inflammation in the lower back of your body owing to the Crohn’s Disease is found to expand to various layers of the tissue of the bowel that has been affected due to the disease. Most of the time, the disease is unbearable and cause immense pain. Also, it is debilitating and could have a way to conditions that are life-threatening.

There does not exist any cure for the disease. It is necessary to mention that undertaking few medications and lifestyle changes help you reduce the sign and symptoms of the disease. Owing to a proper diagnosis and treatment, people can live a normal life with the disease.

Causes of Crohn’s Disease

Though the exact reason behind the occurrence of the disease stays unknown, it was earlier believed that the stress and diet could lead to the development of the disease. However, doctors now think that this above condition could only aggravate the onset of the disease and is not the prime cause of the buildup of the disease. With the passage of time, multiple researchers and risky life cases revealed that both hereditary and the weakening of the immune system pave the way for the build-up of the Crohn’s Disease.

1. Hereditary:

It is seen that people who have a family history of the Crohn’s Disease have a greater risk of developing the same. Genes play an important role in the development of the disease. Though most of the medical experts believe this, yet it is not the only cause of the disease. People having Crohn’s Disease might not have a history of the genetic disorder.

2. Malfunctioning of the Immune System:

It is largely possible that the onset of a bacteria or virus causes Crohn’s Disease. Consider your immune system combating disease, and in the process, it gives a wrong response. This abnormal response by the immune system leads to the development of the Crohn’s Disease. Majorly the immune system unknowingly attacks the cells present in the digestive tract.

Risk Factors of Crohn’s Disease

Few factors that boost the development of the Crohn’s Disease are stated as:

  • Genetics: Crohn’s disease is common among individuals with a family history of the disease. It is often found that around 20% of the people with Crohn’s Disease have a history of the same in the family. It could be a close relative or siblings that have Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis. Also, the descendants of the Ashkenazi Jews are at greater risk of developing the disease.
  • Age: Another factor that leads to the development of the disease is the age of an individual. People at younger she’s are mostly diagnosed with the presence of the disease. General people below 30 face this. However, this is not mandatory, and adults of ages 50-80 might also develop Crohn’s Disease.
  • Smoking: One habit that extensively favours the development of the disease. But this is totally under your control and if you wish you can prevent the disease from flaring. Control your smoking habits to lead a healthy life.
  • Diet: An unhealthy diet is the stairways to disease. And the same for the Crohn’s Disease. If you are among those who eat a lot of processed food, then you are at higher risk of developing the disease.
  • Medications: Though drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen do not add the Crohn’s Disease yet they play a major role in flaring the Inflammation in your digestive tract.

Signs and Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

There are myriads of a symptom associated with the disease. However, this is not obligatory. Few experience symptoms early while few might not encounter any signs. Also, the type and the extent of the symptoms depends upon your condition and the intensity of the disease. You may find changes as:

  1. Diarrhea with blood, pus or mucus.
  2. Fever
  3. Weight loss
  4. Pain in abdomen
  5. Rectal Bleeding
  6. Feeling of fullness in your abdomen.
  7. Blood in stool

Also, there are few complications associated with the disease. There are either local that has an effect only on the intestines and the systemic that affects the entire body.

Local Complications include:

  • Abscess
  • Fissure
  • Fistula
  • Bile Salt Diarrhea
  • Stricture
  • Malnutrition and Malabsorption

Systemic Complications comprise of

  • Arthritis in joints
  • Skin Disease
  • Eyesight issues
  • Bone osteoporosis
  • Kidney problems
  • Delayed Puberty
  • Failure in growth
  • Liver diseases

Diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease

An array of tests are done to rule out the presence of any other disease such as the Ulcerative Colitis. Initially, the doctor seeks a medical explanation, and a family background checks to look for the reasons behind the disease. Some of the lab tests include:

  • Complete Blood Count and several blood tests
  • Stool examination to seek infection in the bowel.
  • Few doctors opt for a gastroenterologist to performance tests such as:
  1. Balloon-assisted enteroscopy: Here the patients needs first to inflate the balloon and then release the same which is connected to a flexible tube. This tube has a camera at the end that helps the doctor seek a wider view of the areas.
  2. Capsule Endoscopy: Here the patient needs to swallow a tiny capsule that has a camera associated. This gives the doctor a better and vivid view of the intestines.
  3. Colonoscopy or Sigmoidoscopy: This also helps the doctor get a better image of the large intestine and rule out the presence of any disease.
  4. CT scan to get a wider image of the organs internal to the body.
  5. MRI is done to get a clear image of the organ without inducing radiation
  6. Upper Endoscopy to see the area of your body above the oesophagus. Stomach and the upper region of your body can be viewed with the test.

Treatments of Crohn’s Disease 

It has already been said that there does not exist any proper care of the disease. And also, no single cure can be applied to all suffering from the disease. What can be done is take the right medicine and the proper measures and changes in lifestyle to reduce the effect of the disease. The major aim of treating a Crohn’s Disease is to deter the effect of the disease and control factors that are responsible for triggering the disease. One can also prevent the long-term prognosis by inducing the right care at the right time. Long-term limits to the complications and few also witness a total remission.

Few doctors prefer giving a medicine, while few opt for natural therapy. Some give stress relievers while few advice on yoga and meditation. What your doctor prescribes largely depends upon the extent of the disease you have and also the associated complications and the risk factors. Symptoms as well sign differ from people to people, and so does the treatment or the medication provided.

Medications for Crohn’s Disease

An array of medicine is provided by the medical experts to either treat reduce the risk of the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease.

  • The first and the foremost is the anti-inflammatory drugs. These are important to treat the inflammation caused in bowel due to the unaided response by the immune system. Corticosteroids and Oral 5-aminosalicylates are primarily given.
  • Often, doctors prefer giving an immune suppressor along with anti-inflammatory drugs. Methotrexate (Trexall), Azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran) and mercaptopurine (Purinethol, Purixan) are the most common ones.
  • Also, the doctor prescribes certain antibiotics, pain relievers, stress relievers and also supplements of iron and vitamin to help combat the disease better.

Therapy for Crohn’s Disease

Your doctor might suggest you talk a nutrition therapy. A feeding tube or something like nutrients intake is fed to the body with the help of a tube. This helps in better digestion, and the bowel can stay at rest for a few days. Also, there is a possibility that your doctor gives you both a nutrition therapy and also medications to treat better. Drugs that help boost the immune system are very effective in reducing the effect of the Crohn’s Disease.

Few doctors suggest the patient go on a diet that has less content or fiber. This eliminates the risk of blockage in the intestines. Taking a less residue diet helps in the reaction to the amount and the frequency of the stool.


Many times, drugs, therapy, and lifestyle changes do not affect the intensity of the disease and hence doctors advice to go for surgery. It is seen that 50% of the cases of Crohn’s Disease seek a surgery once in a lifetime. The part that is damaged in your digestive tract is fairly removed and reconnected to a healthy portion during the surgery. Also, the surgeon could choose to close the abscess and drain out the pus from the fistula if present. Though the disease would again flare up, yet if proper medication is taken the disease would not take a life-threatening stage. After the surgery, the doctor suggests a restricted food diet along with important medicines to reduce the risk of the symptoms from building up again.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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