Crohn’s disease is a medical condition that is commonly referred to by many medical professionals as regional enteritis. It is characterized by the sores or ulcers that it causes in a person’s gastrointestinal tract. It is a disease that can cause problems in many different parts of the gastrointestinal system that can range from a person’s mouth all the way down to their anus. The ileum however is the most common area that problems are suffered, which is the lower portion of a person’s small intestine. It also tends to affect the colon or large intestine.
The symptoms a person generally experiences when they have Crohn’s disease can be quite painful. The most common symptoms associated with this disorder are weight loss, diarrhea, and blood in the stool, abdominal pain, anemia, fever, and malnutrition. A few of the chief complaints that patients with this disease have are from the abdominal pain and the diarrhea that they experience. Children that have Crohn’s disease will sometimes have problems with a delay in growth that can happen either during childhood or adolescence.
Other problems that they may also experience can include obstruction in the intestines. This will cause vomiting, cramping that is severe and painful, abdominal distention, and nausea. A perforation of the bowels, abscesses, and fistulas may also occur. This causes tunnels or abnormal passages to form that go from one area of the intestines to another area. They can also go to the skin. Although it is not nearly as common, these tunnels can also go to the bladder, vagina, abdominal wall, or other organs that are close by.
In many cases where a patient has been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease they will experience times where the symptoms are in remission. They will also experience times where they will have a flare-up or relapse of the symptoms. There are as many as one-fourth of the patients with this disease will also experience manifestations of other types of extra-intestinal disease occurrences. Some of the most common include inflammation of the eye such as episcleritis, iritis, or uveitis, arthritis, and inflammation of the skin such as erythema nodosum or pyoderma gangrenosum.
Research has shown that a gastrointestinal tract dysfunctional inflammatory response is likely the problem that causes a person to suffer the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Researchers believe this type of response may be caused by viruses, bacteria from contents of the intestines. Another cause may be when the body’s own cells are sending a signal that is defective, which is commonly known as an autoimmune response. When this happens inflammation occurs, as well edema, which also causes redness, heat, and tissue swelling. When chronic inflammation occurs it will often cause impairment in the normal functions of the organs and tissue.
There is no known cause for Crohn’s disease. It is however thought to occur in people that have inherited this condition genetically. There are continued studies and research performed to find causes of this disease. In the meantime, researchers have several theories that suggest the possible cause of this painful disease.