A type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease causes your digestive tract to become swollen and irritated. If you have Crohn’s, you might experience symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss and rectal bleeding. This is a life-long condition that cannot be cured. However, treatments typically help manage your symptoms and allow you to live an active life.
People with Crohn’s disease can experience periods of severe symptoms (flare-ups) followed by periods of no or very mild symptoms (remission). Remission can last weeks or even years. There’s no way to predict when flare-ups will happen.
If you have Crohn’s disease, symptoms you might have can include:
- Abdominal pain.
- Chronic diarrhea.
- A feeling of fullness.
- A loss of your appetite.
- Weight loss.
- Abnormal skin tags (usually on your buttocks).
- Anal fissures.
- Anal fistulas.
- Rectal bleeding.
There’s no known cause of Crohn’s disease. Certain factors may increase your risk of developing the condition, including:
Autoimmune disease: Bacteria in the digestive tract may cause the body’s immune system to attack your healthy cells.
Genes: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often runs in families. If you have a parent, sibling or other family member with Crohn’s, you may be at an increased risk of also having it. There are several specific mutations (changes) to your genes that can predispose people to developing Crohn’s disease.
Smoking: Cigarette smoking could as much as double your risk of Crohn’s disease
There’s no way to prevent Crohn’s disease. These healthy lifestyle changes can ease symptoms and reduce flare-ups:
- Stop smoking.
- Eat a healthy, low-fat diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Manage stress.