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Crohn’s disease is one of two types of irritable bowel disease. Unlike the more narrowly located Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease can be very widespread. Crohn’s disease is caused by inflammation of the bowel walls which can occur anywhere between the mouth and anus. This inflammation is frequently interspersed with healthy tissue. It affects the entire thickness of the bowel walls. Crohn’s is usually diagnosed by age 35 and affects 1.5 million people in the USA alone.
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder. That means your body’s immune system is mistakenly attacking healthy cells. It is also a multifactorial disease. This means there are several possible underlying causes for it. Scientists know that the causes include genetic and environmental factors. Some risk factors are a low fiber diet, high carb diet, altered microbiome, and the use of NSAID medication. Lifestyle factors that influence Crohn’s include sleep, stress, exercise, and smoking. Unlike ulcerative colitis, smoking doubles a person’s chance of developing Crohn’s disease.
Having such a large amount of possible causes makes Crohn’s disease very difficult to cure. So far researchers have only found ways to intermittently fix the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Surgery has the best chance of providing long-term help however surgery comes with massive side effects. There are two classic drug-based solutions corticosteroids and immunomodulators. Corticosteroids reduce the body’s inflammatory response. Immunomodulators change how the immune system acts. The newest type of Crohn’s medication to market is biologics, which targets only specific parts of the immune system to keep effectiveness high and side effects low. Several of these are still in the research phase along with some brand new classes of oral drugs. To learn more about getting involved in Crohn’s disease research studies, visit our enrolling studies page or call your local ENCORE office today.
Written by: Benton Lowey-Ball, B.S. Behavioral Neuroscience
Gajendran, M., Loganathan, P., Catinella, A. P., & Hashash, J. G. (2018). A comprehensive review and update on Crohn’s disease. Disease-a-month, 64(2), 20-57.