Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is another member of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease [IBD] group. The other is ulcerative colitis, which we considered last Thursday. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract, which is characterized by ulcers, abscesses and fistulae. Unlike ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. However, it is more frequently found at the end of the small intestine [ileum] and the beginning of the large intestine. This is at the ilio-cecal junction.

Crohn’s disease, like its partner, is more commonly seen in the developed world – North America and Europe. However, there has been an increase in occurrence in the last 50 years among the people of developing countries. This is one of the major reasons why I am creating the awareness concerning these diseases not hitherto seen in Africa. Time has come for the African to take steps to prevent these diseases they themselves have imported into this continent. Diseases of the intestines have consequences in other areas and other organs of the body. Like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease also starts in the late teens and early and early adulthood, between the ages of 15 and 35. New cases have been found among people of the older age bracket. It affects both men and women equally.

Causes of Crohn’s disease
Here again, the exact cause of Crohn’s disease is not clear. Theories have been advanced as to the causes of this disease.A depressed immune system: Usually, the immune system that GOD, the creator incorporated into our bodies is capable of taking care of any invading foreign body. Due to certain factors, this immune system begins to fail. The theory has it that Crohn’s disease is a result of an impaired immune system.

Microorganisms: Under normal circumstances, the intestines have bacteria in them, which are known as the normal bacteria flora. When the immune system becomes impaired due to whatever reason, the cells of the immune system may begin to attack these bacteria. When these bacteria under the attack of the immune system lose their beneficial effect to the cells of the intestines, other bacteria can attack the cells of the intestines. These bacteria take advantage of the impaired immune system to attack the normal cells of the walls of the intestines.

Environmental causes: Smoke and fumes from industries have been implicated as the cause of Crohn’s disease. So also cigarette smoking may worsen Crohn’s disease. The consumption of certain types of food can give rise to symptoms that are associated with this disease. Foods such as animal and dairy products. On the other hand, plant products like vegetables and fruits that contain a lot of fibre can help prevent the disease. Such drugs as hormonal contraceptives have been found to increase the incidence of Crohn’s.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease usually differ from patient to patient and also in intensity. General symptoms are fever, anorexia [loss of appetite], nausea, vomiting, tiredness and loss of weight. Symptoms that are specific to Crohn’s disease are abdominal pain with cramps, diarrhea, which may be frequent; in the region of 20 bowel movements daily. Other symptoms are the presence of blood in the stools and a feeling of not having emptied the bowel completely.

Some complications of Crohn’s disease are intestinal stenosis, malabsorption of nutrients, anaemia (especially if rectal bleeding is severe), inflammation of the eyes, skin rashes, arthritis and tiredness. The management of Crohn’s disease will be discussed under the general management of the intestine and prevention of diseases of the intestine

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