Many health professionals believe Crohn's disease belongs to a group of digestive conditions called Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Crohn's disease is considered an autoimmune disease that is incurable. Symptoms include weight loss, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, rectal bleeding, persistent diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, sensation of incomplete evacuation, and constipation.
Who develops Crohn's disease?
Currently, as many as 700,000 Americans may suffer from Crohn's disease, with most of them being young adults between the ages of 15 and 35. It is not completely understood as to why certain people get this chronic condition, and there are still many studies being done. While diet and stress aggravate the condition, these two factors do not cause the disease.
What are possible risk factors of Crohn's disease?
Experts believe that there are two main culprits that actually cause Crohn's disease: genetics and environment. It has been proven that this disease runs in families. In fact, it has been reported that 1 in 5 people have a close family member with the disease. Environment plays a factor as well; the disease is more common in those who live in urbanized areas and large cities in industrialized nations. People who live in northern climates seem also to be more susceptible to the disease.
Your ethnicity and health habits can also impact you chances of developing Crohn's disease. It is more common in white people, especially Jewish people in Eastern Europe. Smoking cigarettes also increases your chances for this condition. Many of these risk factors seem completely unavoidable as you certainly can't control genetics, ethnicity, or age. Really the only risks that you can influence are whether you smoke cigarettes and where you choose to live.
What can I do if I develop Crohn's disease?
It's difficult to prevent Crohn's disease, but there are certainly things that you can do in order to manage the symptoms. One obvious way to minimize the symptoms is to watch what you eat. Avoid foods that are fried, greasy, spicy, or high in fiber. It may also help to avoid dairy and gluten and limit your caffeine and alcohol intake.
It can be beneficial to avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. Doctors often prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and immune system suppressors or a combination of the two for people with Crohn's disease. Alternative treatments, such as probiotics and fish oil, have also helped some patients.