What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Understanding Crohn’s disease can help you and your loved ones navigate the uncertainty that comes with a new diagnosis.
Crohn’s disease belongs to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel diseases, or IBD. The cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. Researchers think that an autoimmune reaction may be one cause. An autoimmune reaction happens when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body. Genetics may also play a role, since Crohn’s disease can run in families.
Stress and eating certain foods don’t cause the disease, but they can make your symptoms worse.
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease can vary, depending where and how severe your inflammation is. The most common symptoms include:
- Cramping and pain in your abdomen
- Weight loss
Some other possible symptoms are:
- Anemia, a condition in which you have fewer red blood cells than normal
- Eye redness or pain
- Joint pain or soreness
- Nausea or loss of appetite
- Skin changes that involve red, tender bumps under the skin
Medication treating Crohn’s disease is designed to suppress your immune system’s abnormal inflammatory response that is causing your symptoms. Suppressing inflammation not only offers relief from common symptoms like fever, diarrhea, and pain, it also allows your intestinal tissues to heal.
In addition to controlling and suppressing symptoms (inducing remission), medication can also be used to decrease the frequency of symptom flare ups (maintaining remission). With proper treatment over time, periods of remission can be extended and periods of symptom flare ups can be reduced. Several types of medication are being used to treat Crohn’s disease today.