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Describing Crohn's Disease

Crohn’s disease is best described as an inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract causing pain and diarrhea. Without treatment, it can develop into blockages, fistulas (small tunnels through tissue) and scar tissue.

Crohn’s disease typically affects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon. However, it may affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus and can affect the superficial and deep layers of the intestinal wall. It is most commonly diagnosed in people ages 20 to 30, and those with a family history of inflammatory bowel disease have a 20% higher chance of developing it.

What Causes Crohn’s Disease?

Although there have been many studies about Crohn’s disease, its exact cause remains unknown. Many scientists think that it may be caused by a combination of various risk factors, including:

  • Genetics. Crohn’s disease isn’t inherited, but medical professionals believe it may be familial.
  • Age. Crohn’s disease may occur at any age, but most people are diagnosed before age 30.
  • Environment. Scientists observed that Crohn’s disease is more common in industrialized countries or urban areas than underdeveloped countries or rural places. They suggested a possible link between high-fat and refined food (which is common in urban societies) and Crohn’s disease.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). While they don’t cause the disease, NSAIDs can lead to inflammation of the bowel, which could worsen Crohn’s disease.