Crohn’s disease is one of the many results of chronic inflammation. It is a serious inflammatory bowel disease that is on the rise, especially among young people.

 

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The symptoms of Crohn’s disease are classified into three categories: gastrointestinal, systemic, and extraintestinal.

 

Gastrointestinal symptoms:

 

·         Diarrhea
·         Abdominal pain
·         Weight loss
·         Cramping
·         Loose bowel movements
·         Bloating
·         Flatulence
·         Blood in stool
·         Intestinal blockage
·         Dehydration
·         Painful defecation

 

Systemic symptoms:

 

•       Growth Failure (in children)
•       Fever
•       Abscess
•       Carbohydrate malabsorption
•       Loss of appetite
•       Fatigue
•       Unexplained weight loss

 

Extraintestinal symptoms:

1.    Inflammation of the eye
2.    Arthritis
3.    Pulmonary embolism
4.    Clubbing
5.    Osteoporosis
6.    Seizures
7.    Stroke
8.    Myopathy
9.    Peripheral neuropathy
10.  Headache
11.  Depression

 

Causes and Risk Factors of Crohn’s Disease

 

The cause of Crohn’s disease remains unknown, but there have been many theories expounded to explain its cause. Speculation revolves around these factors:

 

Weak immunity – Researchers and health experts suggest that Crohn’s disease can be the result of certain viruses and bacteria. The presence of these pathogens in the GI tract triggers the body’s defense mechanism, resulting in inflammation which may lead to several inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s. Others suggest that the disease may also be the result of an abnormal response of the immune system in which it battles naturally-occurring bacteria in the intestines.

 

Genetics – Several studies show that Crohn’s can be acquired through genetic and hereditary predisposition. People whose parents or siblings have Crohn’s disease are at high risk for developing the condition.

 

Smoking – Cigarette smoke can increase the risk of flare-ups, which is a common symptom of several inflammation bowel diseases, including Crohn’s.

 

Ethnicity – Jewish people of Eastern and Central European ancestry have been found to have a higher risk of Crohn’s than the general population. African Americans are also at increased risk, while Asians and Hispanics are considered low-risk groups.

 

Excessive sanitation – While adequate sanitation is required to keep infections down, excessive sanitation can actually do more harm than good. Although many bacteria and other pathogens can be harmful to our bodies, excessive sanitation limits our exposure to the microbial antigens that strengthen our immune system. A weak immune system means higher susceptibility to a number of diseases, including Crohn’s.

 

Location – For those living in the developed world, environmental factors can contribute to the incidence of Crohn’s disease. This is largely due to the overabundance of high-fat and refined foods. People living in underdeveloped nations and eating whole foods have a much lower incidence of Crohn’s, and inflammatory bowel diseases in general.

Complications from Crohn’s Disease

 

If the symptoms are aggravated and the condition left untreated, Crohn’s disease may lead to several complications that can threaten one’s health:

 

·         Bowel obstruction – Inflammation brought about by the presence of Crohn’s disease may cause the intestinal walls to thicken, making it difficult for food to pass through, thereby resulting in intestinal blockage.
·         Multiple ulcers – Inflammation causes ulcers, which may cause massive bleeding. In the worst cases, ulcers may travel to different parts of the intestine and throughout the GI tract.
·         Fistulas – These may form in the intestine and extend to the rectum or vagina.
·         Malabsorption and malnutrition – Both are potentially related to bowel obstruction. When food cannot pass through the intestine, the digestive system is unable to absorb the needed nutrients to keep the body healthy. This leads to malabsorption and malnutrition.
·         Hemorrhage – Massive bleeding of ulcerations may become worse result in hemorrhaging. In this event, a blood transfusion may be required to promote blood clotting.

Diagnosis

 

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