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Monday, August 3, 2020

Crohn’s Disease – Symptoms and Causes

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Crohn’s disease is  disease that I characterized by the inflammation of the bowel hence it is known as the inflammation bowel disease (IBD). Crohn’s disease causes an inflammation in your digestive tract, which causes abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea, tiredness, weight loss and severe malnutrition.

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For different people, Crohn’s disease occurs differently. It attacks different areas for different people. Most times, the inflammation caused by Crohn’s often spreads deep into the tissues of the layers of the intestines.

Crohn’s disease can be severely painful and can lead sometimes to life threatening conditions. Unfortunately there is no known cure for Crohn’s disease however, therapies and some medications can reduce the symptoms and greatly improve life functions by getting the disease to going into long term remission.

The exact cause of crown is not yet known hence no cure for it yet. However, for a while diet and stress have be suspected to be the causes of Crohn’s. However, this fact has been debunked by doctors saying that although these factors actually affect the symptoms of Crohn’s by increasing it, they are not the exact causes of the disease.

Asides stress and diet, some other factors have also be known to increase the development of the disease. These factors include heredity and a failing immune system.


People who have family members who already have had the Crohn’s disease have been seen to also develop the disease. It has been speculated that genes may actually be playing a role in the development of the disease, however, most people with Crohn’s disease have been seen not to have a family history of others who also may have had the same disease as well.

Malfunctioning or a failing immune system

Once a person has an underlying disease that could have caused the malfunctioning of the immune system, the person is at risk of developing several other diseases such as Crohn’s.

Most doctors have speculated that it really is possible for some bacteria or viruses to cause the development of Crohn’s disease. While your immune system is busy trying to fight off a disease or an infection caused by an invading micro-organism, this could trigger a response which is abnormal for the immune system.

This response could force the immune system to function abnormally hence cause it to start attacking the cells of the digestive tract. There are some risk factors that could affect the development of the disease by abnormally accelerating its possibilities. These factors include:

1. Age

Crohn’s disease can affect any age and occur at any stage. However, one is mostly susceptible to getting this disease while the person is young. Most people who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease have been seen to have developed it before the age of 30 years. However, this doesn’t mean the person couldn’t have developed it while the person is much older.

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2. Race and ethnicity

Crohn’s has been seen to affect any race, tribe or ethnic group. However, people of the European culture, the whites, and the people of the European culture most especially the Ashkenazi who are of the Jewish descents have been seen to have developed this disease more.

Recently, it has also been seen that this disease had started increasing rapidly among the blacks who happen to be living in North America and the United kingdom.

3. Family

Since it has been seen that heredity plays a huge role in getting this disease, you would be at a higher risk of developing Crohn’s disease of you already have had a family member who was diagnosed of developing this disease.

If your parent, sibling, or child have had the disease or is currently battling with the disease, it is very possible for you to also develop the disease.

4. Smoking

Smoking of cigarette or tobacco is one of the most important risk factors that causes crohn’s disease, however, it is one of the most controllable factor there is. This means in other words, that you can decide not to smoke and hence not develop the disease.

The fumes from smoking can lead to a more severe disease and also increase your chances of undergoing surgery. So if you are smoking, its not just your lungs that is at risk, there are so many other organs that are at risk too including your digestive tract. Hence, you are advised to quit smoking altogether.

5. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications

These medications in themselves are not exactly harmful but the constant intake of the drugs causes an inflammation of the bowel which will in turn a cause the inflammation of the digestive tract and hence, the development of Crohn’s disease and make it worse.

Drugs such as ibuprofen like Advil, Motrin and so on, naproxen sodium otherwise known as Aleve, Diclofenac sodium otherwise known as voltaren, et cetera have been seen to increase the risk of developing Crohn’s or increasing the damage done already.

6. The environment

Where you stay and likewise your immediate environment and surroundings have been known to also play a role in the development. If you live in an area where there are much industries around or you work a lot with several engines and machines that bring out fumes; if you also live in an urban area, you are more susceptible to developing Crohn’s disease.


The signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease ranges from mild to severe. Normally, they always begin gradually and increase to much more severe symptoms. However, there have been deviations from the normal and it sometimes has been seen to affect some certain people suddenly without any previous sign.

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There are also times you may feel intensely relieved of this disease and you are said to be in remission. Generally when the disease is in it a active stage, the symptoms of Crohn’s disease includes:

  1. Diarrhoea
  2. Severe tiredness
  3. High fever
  4. Severe abdominal pain and cramping.
  5. Sores in the lining of the mouth.
  6. Reduced appetite causing severe weight loss
  7. Fistula which is characterized by pain or drainage near/around the anal opening hitch is caused by an severe inflammation from the anal opening that proceeds into the skin.

Additional to these symptoms, a patient with a severe case of Crohn’s will experience

  1. Inflammation of the joints, skin and/or eyes.
  2. Inflammation of the liver as well as the bile ducts.
  3. For children, they may experience delayed growth and development of their sexual activities.


Crohn’s disease has the tendency to cause one or more of the following complications. They include:

1. Bowel obstruction

Crohn’s disease can cause the inflammation of the bowel well thereby leading to an increased thickness of the bowel. After this has happened for a while, some parts of the bowel can begin to scar and also narrow.

This will in turn cause an obstruction to the flow of contents in the digestive tract. For this, one may require a surgical process in order to remove the diseased bowel as well as clear the obstruction and remove rotten food contents

2. Ulcers

When there is a chronic inflammation of the bowels, it can lead to the development of open sores which can be found anywhere in the digestive tract which stats from the mouth all the way to the anus. These sores might also be experienced in the perineum which is found around the genital area.

3. Anal fissures

Anal fissures occurs when there is a slight tear in the tissues that are found in the lining of the anus or in the skin that is found just around the anal opening and infections enters the bloodstream through the tear.

This condition is mostly associated with bowel movements that are usually painful and it can also lead to a peri-anal fistula.

4. Severe malnutrition

Crohn’s disease causes diarrhoea, intense abdominal pain as well as cramping which can make it very difficult for one to eat. It can also cause the inability for the intestines to adequately absorb sufficient nutrients in order to keep your body nourished.

Also common is the tendency to develop anaemia due to the decreased ability of the body to properly absorb iron or vitamin C.

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5. Colon cancer

When you have Crohn’s disease in your colon, it can increase your risk of developing colon cancer. For people without Chroh’s disease who already have colon cancer, the general screening guidelines includes the call for a colonoscopy after every 10 years most especially when the patient is above 50 years of age.

For people who have Crohn’s disease as well as colon cancer, it is advised that they meet their physician so as to know up if they require colonoscopy frequently.

6. Fistula

There are cases in which the ulcers may extend completely throughout the entire digestive tract which starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. Once this occurs, a fistula is developed. A fistula occurs when there is an abnormal connection between several body parts or internal organs.

A fistula can develop between the skin and the intestines or between the intestines and any other internal organ. The most common type of fistula seen are those which are found around the anal region. This kinds of fistulas are known as the perineal fistula.

Sometimes a fistula can develop in the abdomen. Once this occurs, food may likely bypass the necessary areas where digestion and absorption are required. A fistula may occur between the different loops of bowels such as the small and large intestines and go into the bladder as well the vagina.

It may sometimes come out of the skin, which will cause the spillage of bowel contents into your skin. There are cases where a fistula becomes infected and when this occurs, it can become a severe condition and a life-threatening situation if it is not quickly treated.

7. Medication risks

Some certain drugs which are used to manage Crohn’s disease usually act by blocking out the functions of the immune system. Once this happens, it might increase the risk of developing cancers like skin lymphoma as well as skin cancers. If it doesn’t cause cancer, another close call is the development of an severe infection.

Some certain drugs such as corticosteroids can cause osteoporosis, bone fractures, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes, hypertension et cetera.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Deborah Akinola
Wirter, poet and public speaker

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