Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s disease: Introduction
Crohn’s disease is an ongoing disease of the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The hallmarks of Crohn’s disease are swelling of the GI tract, abdominal pain, and frequent diarrhea. The swelling and inflammation of Crohn’s disease goes deep into the affected part of the GI tract. The condition can affect any area of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, including esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and rectum. It most commonly affects the ileum, the lower portion of the small intestine.

Crohn’s disease can seriously affect a person’s ability to work, attend school, travel or complete other normal activities of daily living. Serious complications of the disease include obstruction of the intestine due to swelling and inflammation, and GI tract sores and ulcers that can become deep enough to create holes into other areas, such as the vagina, bladder, and skin. These holes, called fistulas, can easily become seriously infected.

Poor nutritional status is another potential result of Crohn’s disease. This is due to a combination of factors, including a poor appetite and inadequate intake commonly associated with the condition. Poor nutrition can also be due to an inadequate absorption of nutrients by the intestine due to the inflammation, swelling, and diarrhea. This is known as malabsorption.

There may be a familial connection with Crohn’s disease. About 20% of people with the condition have blood relatives with Crohn’s disease or some other form of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. Crohn’s disease can occur in any age group, but most often is diagnosed between 20 to30 years of age. Other people with a higher risk of developing the disease in include those of Jewish descent, while African Americans have a decreased risk for the disease.

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