Crohn's disease is an inflammation in the digestive tract. This can involve your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, bowel, large intestine and anus. Your digestive tract is the body's lifeline. It helps to breakdown your food, absorb the nutrients in your body and also eliminate the waste. With the presence of this disease, these functions are largely affected. The disease is largely seen in the age group of 15 years-30 years. It is however even found in younger children as pediatric Crohn's disease.
The symptoms found are...
- Abdominal pain
- Constipation (in some cases)
- Weight loss
Environmental factors have been implicated in Crohn's disease. It is seen more in temperate areas of developed countries like North America and Australia. Genetic factors are also found to play a role in the incidence of this disease. About 10% to 15% of patients have a family history of Crohn's disease. Another 5%-7% suffer from ulcerative colitis. There is a high prevalence of this disease seen among siblings.
Crohn's disease affects both men and women. The risk factors are as follows...
Age- It can strike at any age. The condition is likely to develop when you are young. The highly affected age group is between the ages of 20-30.
Ethnicity- Whites have the highest risk of the disease. It can even affect Jews and Europeans.
Family History- You are at a higher risk if you have a close relative such as parent or a sibling with the disease. Your risk is higher (about 30%) if your sibling is suffering from this condition.
Area where you live- It is more common in urban and industrialized areas. This can be because people in such areas are likely to consume diet rich in fats or take more refined foods. People in Northern climates are also prone to this disease condition.
Smoking- You are more likely to develop Crohn's disease if you smoke. If you continue to smoke even after diagnosis, your treatment can be less effective and your illness can worsen.
The following is a list of possible complications that can result from Crohn's disease...
- Perforation of the colon
- Abscess in the colon, abdomen
- Narrowing of the colon causing obstruction
- Toxic swollen colon
- Fistulas- can lead to recurrent infections of the urinary genital tracts
- Infection of the blood (sepsis)
- Joint pain and arthritis
- Colon cancer
- Nutritional problems like weight loss and reduced muscle mass
- Eye inflammations or infections
- Mouth ulcers, gum inflammation and dental cavities
- Liver damage
- Depression and anxiety
- Blood clots
- Skin rashes and ulcers
Crohn's disease sufferers have high levels of fluid loss due to diarrhea. This chronic dehydration can affect their kidney functions. So it is important for these patients to given attention to their fluid intake especially during warmer times of the year. They need to carefully evaluate their diet and select foods which help in reducing the symptoms and promote an environment for healing the GI tract.
Crohn's disease is a chronic condition that can recur at different times during your lifetime. You need to ensure you give proper management and treatment to help you deal with the disease condition. You need to try and improve your quality of life by accepting the situation and learn to cope with the condition in a better manner.