Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by a chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). The disease, that may cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition, is different from other IBDs like ulcerative colitis because of the area it affects in the GI tract.

The disease is named after Dr. Burrill B. Crohn, who along with colleagues Dr. Leon Ginzburg and Dr. Gordon D. Oppenheimer, first described the disease in 1932. According to Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, the disease may affect as many as 700,000 Americans with adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 35 more susceptible to it. Both men and women are equally likely to be affected.

CAUSES

While the exact cause of Crohn’s disease is not known, doctors have ruled out the older suspects like diet and stress. However, factors like genetics — making the condition heredity in cases — and malfunctioning of the immune system are now considered to be playing a role the disease’s development.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

  • Diarrhea and intense intestinal cramping.
  • A low-grade fever, possibly because of inflammation or infection, combined with low levels of energy.
  • Blood mixed with stool or spotting in the toilet bowl in addition to a possibility of fecal occult blood — bleeding that cannot be seen.
  • The patient may develop ulcers in his mouth.
  • Abdominal pain and cramping.
  • Inability to digest and absorb food effectively as a result of an inflammatory reaction in the wall of the bowel.
  • Pain or drainage around the anus due to inflammation from the tunnel.

TREATMENT

There is no known cure for the Crohn’s disease but therapies can be significantly helpful in reducing signs and symptoms of the disease. These therapies can even bring about long-term remission. Treatment allows a number of patients suffering from Crohn’s disease to function well.