This chronic condition is named after Dr. Burrill B. Crohn. He was the first person along with his colleagues Dr. Leon Ginzburg and Dr. Gordon Oppenheimer who described the disease. This chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract belongs to a group of conditions called Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD).
The most commonly affected area by Crohn’s is the end of the small bowel (the ileum) and the beginning of the colon although it may also affect any part of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract, going from the mouth down to the anus. This disease has very similar symptoms with Ulcerative Colitis which is also another type of IBD as the areas that are affected in the GI tract are different with Ulcerative colitis limited to the colon (large intestine).
Signs and Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
As we have said before, Crohn’s disease may affect virtually any part of the gastrointestinal tract with some symptoms varying from patient to patient and others being common. These symptoms include;
- Rectal Bleeding
- Persistent Diarrhea
- Cramps and Pain in the Abdomen
- Constipation which can ultimately lead to bowel obstruction
- Sensing Incomplete Evacuation
- Urgency of bowel movement
All these are related to inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract while those that are associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) include;
- Loss of Appetite
- Night Sweats
- Abnormal Menstrual cycle
Please when you see these signs and symptoms do not assume you have Crohn’s disease. It must be confirmed by a doctor after proper testing.
Loss of appetite can also result in weight loss which might also be accompanied by a feeling low energy and fatigue. Crohn’s disease among younger children may cause a delay in growth and development. Since it is a chronic disease, there is a likelihood of experiencing periods when the disease aggravates and causes symptoms which is followed by periods of remission when the symptoms may not be noticed at all.
During bowel movements in severe cases, Crohn’s can lead to tears in the anus lining causing pain and bleeding. The inflammation may also result in the development of fistula. The fistula is any tunnel that leads from one loop of intestine to another or connecting the intestine to the vagina, bladder or skin.
What Causes Crohn’s Disease? Who Are Those Who Can Be Affected By the Diseases?
Both men and women at any age are equally likely to be affected by Crohn’s but more prevalent among adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 35.
From all studies on Crohn’s disease, the causes of this disease are not well understood. It has been found that diet and stress tend to aggravate it but do not cause the disease on their own. Hereditary, genetics and/or environmental factors are suggestions that contribute to the development of the disease.
From research it has been seen that Crohn’s tend to run in families, so if you know some relative who happens to have the disease, there is a great chance that your family members would develop Crohn’s. Eastern Europeans and Jews with European descent have the highest number of occurrence of Crohn’s but in recent years, there has been an increase among African American populations with the disease more rampant in developed countries than underdeveloped countries.