What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune intestinal disorder that is usually diagnosed before the age of 30. Although its causes are unknown, the drugs, foods, and habits that will help you control your discomfort are.

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can affect any portion of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus, and most frequently involved the last segment of the small intestine, the ileum. Its cause is unknown, although theories are postulated about an autoimmune origin in individuals with a particular genetic predisposition and with the participation of other environmental factors.

The most constant manifestations in Crohn’s patients will be abdominal pain and diarrhea. Its genetic association is rather polygenic. It does not follow a simple inheritance pattern.

The disease is chronic, but it alternates periods of flare with others of inactivity. Each patient develops it differently; there are people with severe symptoms with frequent exacerbations and others who have long periods without symptoms, even without treatment. Most patients achieve a near-normal quality of life most of the time.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis share a good part of their symptoms within inflammatory bowel disease but present features that make them two different entities.

The development of new biological therapies in recent years has contributed to an improvement in these patients’ quality of life.

Who is affected by Crohn’s disease

This disease is more frequent in countries of the north of Europe, Canada, and the USA, whereas in the countries south of Europe, Asia, and Africa, there are fewer affected; Its incidence varies according to the regions, currently considering that in some areas there are 300 people per 100,000 inhabitants with some type of inflammatory bowel disease. Although it is recognized more frequently in developed countries, cases in developing regions are also increasing.

It can occur with the same frequency in men and women and is usually diagnosed between 20 and 30. however, it is sometimes diagnosed in children, even in babies under one age. In countries where its prevalence is high, the incidence in children is higher. There seems to be another peak of incidence between 55-60 years, although less important.

Causes of Crohn’s disease

The causes of Crohn’s disease are unknown, and no theory is definitive. Genetic influence is significant. Approximately 20% of the patients have relatives affected by this disorder; arguably, the most important risk factor for developing inflammatory bowel disease is having a family member with the disease. At least three mutations of the NOD2 / CARD15 gene have been determined, which is specific for Crohn’s disease, which determines an altered response to the bacteria of the intestinal microbiota (the great variety of bacterial species that inhabit the intestine).

Affected people have an immune system that overreacts to viruses or bacteria that reach the intestine, causing the inflammatory reaction of the entire thickness of the intestinal walls, where scars are formed. What has not yet been identified is whether one species of microorganism is more directly involved than another.

On the other hand, it has been shown that tobacco increases the risk of developing Crohn’s disease and worsens the disease’s evolution if you continue to smoke. In fact, in some siblings with inflammatory bowel disease, the curious circumstance occurs that the smoker has Crohn’s disease and the non-smoker has ulcerative colitis.

Other factors that negatively influence the disease are daily stress and important life events such as the losing a loved one, a divorce, or interpersonal conflicts, more in the disease’s activity than in its appearance.