Crohn's disease is a form of irritable bowel disease (IBD). It causes the digestive tract to become inflamed, which leads to stomach pain, extreme diarrhea, tiredness, weight loss, and malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn's disease may affect various areas of the digestive tract depending on the individual; this inflammation also extends through the bowel's deeper layers.
The cause of Crohn's disease is unclear. Previously, diet and stress were thought to be causative factors; however, experts now know that while these variables can aggravate Crohn's disease, they do not cause it. Several factors are likely to play a role in its development, such as inheritance and a malfunctioning immune system.
Genes may play a role in making people more susceptible to Crohn's as individuals who have a family history of the disease are more likely to have it. However, most individuals with Crohn's do not have a family history, leading experts to believe the immune system may play a key role in its occurrence. Exposure to a virus or bacterium in the gut may result in an abnormal immune response. This irregular response may target cells in the digestive tract when attempting to fend off invading organisms, which then causes Crohn's disease. Currently, no specific virus or bacterium has been declared the causative agent.
Crohn's disease is not always active, but when it flares up signs and symptoms may appear suddenly. They include but are not limited to:
Abdominal pain and cramping
Lack of appetite and rapid weight loss
Pain or drainage near or around the anus
Individuals with more severe cases of Crohn's disease may experience the following:
Skin, eye, and joint inflammation
Liver or bile duct inflammation
In children, delayed growth or sexual development
There are many methods used to screen for Crohn's disease including:
Computerized tomography (CT) scan
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
Your doctor may use any combination of the above exams to determine a diagnosis. Once Crohn's disease is confirmed, treatment typically consists of anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, vitamins and supplements, antidiarrheals, and nutrition therapy. In extreme cases, surgery may be required to remove diseased sections of the intestine and a feeding tube may be recommended to allow the bowel to rest.
Check out this short informational video on Nutrition & Crohn's disease by Stanford Health Care :