Crohn's Disease

Topics: Gastroenterology, Ulcerative colitis, Digestion Pages: 5 (1705 words) Published: April 30, 2006
Inflammatory bowel disease affects about one million Americans. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are both types of irritable bowel disease, or IBD. Crohn's disease is an ongoing illness that creates inflammation in the walls of the digestive tract. It can affect any area of the gastrointestinal tract (GI), from the mouth to the anus. Although it can be found along any part of the GI tract, it is most commonly detected in the small intestine. This paper will highlight the history, causes, dietary effects, prevention, and cures of Crohn's disease. Its namesake, Dr. Burrill B. Crohn, and two colleagues discovered the illness in 1932 (, 2005). Since Crohn's is a chronic disease, it requires more than a couple months of treatment and some simple medications. It is a lifetime illness that can be fully active, and can then be in total remission. A person with Crohn's can go through the cycles of the disease many times in their lifespan. One of the common features of the disease is the immune system's reaction to the natural bacteria in the small intestine. The bacterium found in the digestive tract, or gut flora, is mistaken for harmful microbes (Secko, 2005). It is at this time when the area around the GI tract becomes bombarded with white blood cells which is the beginning of inflammation. Since the body's immune system attacks healthy, good bacteria, Crohn's could be considered to be an autoimmune disease. With the disease able to affect any part of the GI tract, any part of the digestive system can be susceptible to inflammation. As previously stated, the small intestine is most commonly affected, but any organ in the digestive tract, from the esophagus to the colon, can become inflamed. Once the GI tract becomes inflamed, the visible symptoms can include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and even rectal bleeding. Over time, a patient with Crohn's can experience loss of appetite and fatigue. Other organs and body parts, besides the GI tract, affected by the disease include the eyes, liver, joints, and skin. Crohn's is a disease that can develop in young and elderly alike. Since anyone is at risk to contracting this disease, when the first signs of the symptoms develop, one should consult with their physician about testing for the disease. Crohn's disease affects the organs located within the digestive tract system that consists of the esophagus, stomach, large intestine or colon, small intestine or ileum, rectum, and the anus. The digestive system and its accessory organs are used to process food into molecules that can be absorbed and utilized by the cells of the body. Once the food is broken down it then goes through a three-step process within the body, which consists of digestion, absorption, and elimination. Once the nutrients have been absorbed, they are available to all cells in the body and are utilized by the body cells in the metabolism. However, an individual with Crohn's disease has an immune system that reacts inappropriately to this process. Their immune system takes the nutrients absorbed from foods and treats them as a foreign substance and launches an attack. This attack causes many problems in the body, although, no one knows the exact causes of this disease. Due to the slow progress in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, scientists have not found a causal factor for this disease. Scientists believe that this disease can be caused by poor genetics. If one member in a family is found to have Crohn's Disease, chances are that many other family members have it as well. Genetics definitely play a role in this disease. Studies have shown that about twenty to twenty-five percent of patients may have a close relative with either Crohn's or ulcerative colitis. If a person has a relative with the disease, the risk for that person to find that they too have Crohn's Disease is about ten times greater than that of the general population. If that...

References: About Crohn 's Disease (2005). Retrieved from the World Wide Web on November 3, 2005,
Crohn 's Disease (2005). Retrieved from the World Wide Web on November 19, 2005,
Functions of the Digestive System (2005). Retrieved November 9, 2005 from
Secko, D. (2005). CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, March 15, 2005, v172, i6, p738 (2). Retrieved from Infotrac Database on the University of Phoenix Library on November 17, 2005.
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