Crohn’s disease and Gastrointestinal Disorders
Crohn’s disease is a chronic, or long lasting, disease that causes irritation and inflammation or swelling in the gastrointestinal 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 GI tract.
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. Researchers believe the following factors may play a role in causing Crohn’s disease:
- autoimmune reaction
Autoimmune reaction. Scientists believe one cause of Crohn’s disease may be an autoimmune reaction—when a person’s immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake. Normally, the immune system protects the body from infection by identifying and destroying bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful foreign substances. Researchers believe bacteria or viruses can mistakenly trigger the immune system to attack the inner lining of the intestines. This immune system response causes the inflammation, leading to symptoms.
Genes. Crohn’s disease sometimes runs in families. Research has shown that people who have a parent or sibling with Crohn’s disease may be more likely to develop the disease. Researchers continue to study the link between genes and Crohn’s disease.
Environment. Some studies suggest that certain things in the environment may increase the chance of a person getting Crohn’s disease, although the overall chance is low.
Some people incorrectly believe that eating certain foods, stress, or emotional distress can cause Crohn’s disease. Emotional distress and eating certain foods do not cause Crohn’s disease. Sometimes the stress of living with Crohn’s disease can make symptoms worse.