2016-06-24 13:13:39 UTC

IBD 102: What is Crohn's Disease?

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  • Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • It causes inflammation (pain and swelling) in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, also called the digestive system.
  • Inflammation from Crohn’s disease can make it hard for patients to take in nutrients during digestion.
  • While there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, there are treatments that can help.
  • Crohn’s disease can have times of remission (time when you feel well) and relapse (when you feel ill).
  • The most common part of the body affected is the lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum, and the first part of the colon. However, Crohn’s disease can show up in any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus. 
  • Crohn’s disease can be found in people of any age but is often found between ages 13 and 30. 
  • Smoking can raise the chances of getting Crohn’s disease.
  • Right now, the cause of Crohn’s disease is not fully known. Experts think a few things could play a role in getting Crohn’s disease, such as:
    • Autoimmune reaction — Crohn’s disease is thought to be an autoimmune health issue, meaning the body’s immune system thinks food and other things are not supposed to be there. With this, the body attacks your gut, causing inflammation. 
    • Genes — Crohn’s disease tends to run in families.
    • The environment — Some studies show certain things, such as the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, oral contraceptives or a high-fat diet may slightly raise chances of getting Crohn’s disease.
  • Stress or certain foods do not cause Crohn’s disease. However, high stress and some foods may worsen symptoms.

©AGA, July 2016

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