Crohn’s disease is a chronic or long-time condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease is painful, debilitating, and sometimes life-threatening.
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune-mediated inflammatory condition. It can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract (GI) from the mouth to the anus.
The disease primarily involves the intestinal system, but it has a variety of manifestations and can affect the skin, joints, bones, eyes, kidneys, and liver.
Signs of Crohn’s disease can include intestinal ulcers, discomfort, and pain.
Although it generally starts in childhood or early adulthood, it can develop at any age.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease vary, depending on which part of the gut the condition affects. They often include:
- Pain: The level of pain varies from person to person and depends on where the inflammation is in the bowel. People experience pain in the lower right side of the abdomen.
- Ulcers in the gut: These are raw areas that may bleed. If this occurs, a person may find blood in their stools.
- Mouth ulcers: These are typical symptoms.
- Diarrhea: It can range from mild to severe and can include mucus, blood, or pus. A person may feel the urge to do a bowel movement but may find that nothing comes out.
- Fatigue: People with Crohn’s disease often feel very tired and may have a fever.
- Altered appetite: Sometimes, a person may experience a loss of appetite.
- Weight loss: This can be caused by anorexia.
- Anemia: A loss of blood can usher to anemia.
- Rectal bleeding and anal fissures: Reaching the skin of the anus, leading to pain and bleeding.
During a flare of Crohn’s disease signs, a person may also develop:
- Skin rash and inflammation
- Inflammation of the liver or bile duct
- Delayed child development or sexual development
Symptoms in females
Half of the women who develop Crohn’s disease do so before the age of 35. It may have some specific symptoms in women, including:
- Irregular menstruation, due to effects on hormone function
- Iron deficiency, like Crohn’s, affects the absorption of nutrients and can usher in intestinal bleeding
- Pain during intercourse, if symptoms affect areas near the anus or vagina
- Discomfort about sex, such as Crohn’s can affect a person’s libido and body image, as well as cause pain and other types of discomfort
Crohn’s disease does not appear to affect fertility, but researchTrusted Source recommends that it is harder to conceive when the disease is active and after surgery.
Having Crohn’s disease (IBD) doesn’t prevent a person from becoming pregnant. However, a person with this type of illness can often rest:
- Have a preterm delivery
- Need a cesarean delivery
- Give birth to an infant with a low birth weight
It is not clear what causes Crohn’s disease. Reliable evidence from experts suggests that it may be the result of an abnormal reaction of the immune system. However, they do not know whether this reaction causes or results in the disease.
Factors that can increase the risk of inflammation include:
- Genetic factors
- Environmental factors
- A person’s immune system
A bacterium or virus may also play a part. An example of research suggests that there is a link between the bacterium Escherichia coli and Crohn’s disease.
If symptoms are extreme and frequent, the risk of complications is higher. A person with any of the following complications may need :
- Internal bleeding
- A stricture, involves the narrowing of a portion of the intestine, causing the formation of scar tissue and causing partial or complete occlusion of the intestine
- A hole, is a small hole in the wall of the intestine that can lead to leakage, infection, and abscesses
- Fistulas, which form a channel between two parts of the intestine
In addition, a person may have:
- A persistent iron deficiency
- Problems with food absorption
- Slightly higher risk of bowel cancer