Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It can occur anywhere in the tract, but is most frequently found in the small intestine.
The intestine can become inflamed as a result of infection or an abnormal immune system reaction. The actual cause of Crohn's disease is not known. It is believed that most instances are caused by the immune system mistaking food and bacteria for foreign substances and trying to attack them, causing a buildup in the intestines. The disease is also believed to be hereditary, as 20% of people affected have a direct relative with Crohn's disease or another IBD. Crohn's disease is also found more often in people between the ages of 20 and 30, of Jewish heritage and Eastern European descent.
Once Crohn's disease has been diagnosed, it is important to begin treatment depending on the type and severity of symptoms. While Crohn's disease cannot be cured, it can be treated effectively to minimize the effects on your daily life. Treatment of Crohn's disease often includes anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, antibiotics and over-the-counter medicine. Surgery may be recommended for patients with more severe or unresponsive symptoms. Life changes such as a change in diet and regular exercise can also help reduce the symptoms of Crohn's disease.
While Crohn's disease is not fatal, it is a serious condition that can take a toll on your body and mind. It is important to treat your symptoms as effectively as you can and retain a positive attitude to keep the disease from affecting your daily life.