affects men and women equally and seems to run in some families.
About 20 percent of people with Crohn’s disease have a blood
relative with some form of inflammatory bowel disease, most
often a brother or sister and sometimes a parent or child.
Crohn’s disease can occur in people of all age groups, but it is
more often diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 30.
People of Jewish heritage have an increased risk of developing
Crohn’s disease, and African Americans are at decreased risk for
developing Crohn’s disease.
What causes Crohn’s disease?
Several theories exist about
what causes Crohn’s disease, but none have been proven. The
human immune system is made from cells and different proteins
that protect people from infection. The most popular theory is
that the body’s immune system reacts abnormally in people with
Crohn’s disease, mistaking bacteria, foods, and other substances
for being foreign. The immune system’s response is to attack
these “invaders.” During this process, white blood cells
accumulate in the lining of the intestines, producing chronic
inflammation, which leads to ulcerations and bowel injury.
Scientists do not know if the
abnormality in the functioning of the immune system in people
with Crohn’s disease is a cause, or a result, of the disease.
Research shows that the inflammation seen in the GI tract of
people with Crohn’s disease involves several factors: the genes
the patient has inherited, the immune system itself, and the
environment. Foreign substances, also referred to as antigens,
are found in the environment. One possible cause for
inflammation may be the body’s reaction to these antigens, or
that the antigens themselves are the cause for the inflammation.
Scientists have found that high levels of a protein produced by
the immune system, called tumor necrosis factor (TNF), are
present in people with Crohn’s disease.
What are the symptoms of Crohn's
Common symptoms of Crohn's
disease include abdominal pain,
weight loss. Less common symptoms include poor appetite,
fever, night sweats, rectal pain, and
rectal bleeding. The symptoms of Crohn's disease are
dependent on the location, the extent, and the severity of the
inflammation. The different subtypes of Crohn's disease and
their symptoms are:
- Crohn's colitis
is inflammation that is confined to the colon. Abdominal pain
and bloody diarrhea are the common symptoms. Anal fistulae and
peri-rectal abscesses also can occur.
- Crohn's enteritis
refers to inflammation confined to the small intestine (the
first part, called the jejunum or the second part, called the
ileum). Involvement of the ileum alone is referred to as
Crohn's ileitis. Abdominal pain and diarrhea are the common
symptoms. Obstruction of the small intestine also can occur.
- Crohn's terminal ileitis
is inflammation that affects only the very end of the small
intestine (terminal ileum), the part of the small intestine
closest to the colon. Abdominal pain and diarrhea are the
common symptoms. Small intestinal obstruction also can occur.
- Crohn's entero-colitis
and ileo-colitis are
terms to describe inflammation that involve both the small
intestine and the colon. Bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain
are the common symptoms. Small intestinal obstruction also can
to Index of Chronic Pain Management