What is Crohn’s disease and what causes it?

Crohn’s disease is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract. Most commonly, Crohn’s affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine. However, the disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis and microscopic colitis are other common types of IBD. Crohn’s disease most often begins gradually and can become worse over time, with periods of remission that can last for weeks or years.


What causes Crohn’s disease?

Experts think the following factors may play a role in causing Crohn’s disease.

  • Autoimmune reaction: One cause of Crohn’s disease may be an autoimmune reaction – when the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body. Experts think bacteria in the digestive tract can mistakenly trigger an immune system response. This immune system response causes inflammation, leading to symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
  • Genes: Crohn’s disease sometimes runs in families. Experts continue to study the link between genes and Crohn’s disease.

Some studies suggest that other factors may increase the chance of developing Crohn’s disease:

  • Smoking may double chances of developing Crohn’s disease.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen, antibiotics
  • A high-fat diet


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