Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes damage in the gastrointestinal tract and it can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. It is one of the two inflammatory bowel disease, the other being ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract and can cause a variety of symptoms. Although the symptoms of this disease may vary from person to person but there some symptoms that occur in most of the patients having Crohn’s disease.
- Persistent diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- A sensation of incomplete evacuation
- Irregular menstrual cycle
Crohn’s disease can strike at any age, even in the infants and small children. Most often, the disease makes its first appearance in young childhood. An inflammation can affect all the layers of the bowel wall, including the mucosal layer, longitudinal, the annular muscles of the bowel layer, and the connective tissue that envelops the bowel. The inflammatory changes in the tissues have a direct effect on the digestive functions of the bowel.
Causes of Crohn’s Disease
The exact cause of the Crohn's disease is not known yet but many studies suggest that there is an involvement of interaction between genes, the immune system, and environmental factors. Normally, the immune system attacks and kill foreign invaders such as bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. But the immune system of the patients having Crohn's disease is damaged and incapable to protect the body from any infections. There are many risk factors that are associated with the Crohn's disease such as:
- Family History
- Cigarette Smoking
Complications associated with Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s disease is a serious disorder and is associated with various complications. Some of the complications of Crohn's disease include:
1. Anal fissure
An anal fissure is defined as a small tear in the skin of the anal canal that causes pain and bleeding. Fissures are quite common and it is accompanied by bleeding and pain during or after defecation and the pain can persist for hours. Most often, an anal fissure is a result of constipation and constipation is one of the common symptoms of Crohn's disease. Constipation is characterized as passing hard and dry bowel movement and as a result, it tears the fragile skin at the anal outlet. The fissure is considered to be acute but it becomes chronic if the symptoms persist for weeks or months.
2. Colon Cancer
Crohn’s disease is one of the most significant risk factors that lead to the occurrence of the symptoms of Colon cancer. Colon is a part of the large intestine and when the abnormal cell behavior such as uncontrolled cell growth occurs in the glands lining the inner wall of the colon, it causes colon cancer. These growths in the inner lining of the colon are known as polyps and these polyps that convert into cancer over time. All polyps do not convert into cancer and the chances of changing into cancer depend on the type of colon cancer. Adenomatous polyps can change into cancer whereas hyperplastic polyps are more common and are not precancerous.
A fistula is another complication of Crohn’s disease and it is characterized as an abnormal connection between two hollow spaces such as blood vessels, intestines, or hollow organs. It can develop in various parts of the body such as between the esophagus and windpipe, or the bowel and the vagina. The treatment depends on the cause of the fistula and the body part where it has occurred.
Most often, the patients with Crohn’s disease complain about decreased bone density. Osteoporosis is a disease which has affected millions of people worldwide due to the low bone mass. It is characterized by the weak bones that are more likely to break even with a small fall. The symptoms of osteoporosis can be improved by eating a diet which is rich in calcium and vitamin D.