What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s is a disease characterized by chronic inflammation (and long lasting) of the digestive tract wall, which can theoretically affect every segment from the esophagus to the anus, but especially the terminal portion of the small intestine = ileum (terminal ileitis) and frequently, the colon.

Compared with the ulcerative colitis which affects only the lining of the colon, Crohn’s disease affects the entire wall of the affected organ, which can cause complications such as strictures or fistulas.

In the attached photo you can see various locations of Crohn’s disease.

What causes Crohn’s Disease?

The reasons for which a person makes Crohn’s disease are not known, but it seems that the main mechanisms relate to an immune system disorder that attacks some parts of the digestive tract lining. This disorder also has some alleged causes – genetic, infectious, environmental factors, dietary factors, vascular, psychosocial.

The disease is more common among young people, many are smokers, some using birth control pills or anti-inflammatory pills for different diseases.

How common is ?

According to Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America almost 700,000 people in the United States have it. Worldwide, the most new cases of Crohn’s disease are in North America, northern Europe, and the United Kingdom and is less common in regions like eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Several studies have shown that in the United States, in 2009, 50-60 children and 238–245 adults per 100,000 people had this disease.

In Europe a total number of 31 centres from 14 Western and 8 Eastern European countries where approximately 10.1 million participated in this study. During the inclusion period from 1 January to 31 December 2010 a total number of 1,515 patients aged 15 years or older were included in the cohort. Annual incidence rates were twice as high in Western Europe 6.3 per 100,000 compared to Eastern Europe 3.3 per 100,000.

What are the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?

The symptoms are more serious as the portion of the sick digestive tube is higher. Diarrhea is a common problem for people with this disease and may be mixed with mucus, pus or blood.

Other sign and symptoms are:

  • persisted and repeated abdominal pain
  • fever and fatigue
  • bloody stool
  • bone or joint pain – frequent back pain or hip joint
  • mouth sores
  • weight loss
  • delay growth in children