Crohn’s Disease is one of two most common inflammatory bowel diseases

Crohn’s Disease is one of two most common inflammatory bowel diseases, the other of which is known as Ulcerative Colitis. Crohn’s Disease is loosely defined as inflammation of the intestinal tract. One of the defining differences between Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis is that the inflammation in Crohn’s Disease is localized to the ileum, which is the distal part of the small intestine, the beginning part of the ascending colon and the distal part of the descending colon. It may also affect the rectum and sometimes parts of the transverse colon, as illustrated in the image below (Crohn’s ; Colitis Foundation of America, 2014). Symptoms include frequent and excessive diarrhea, blood in the stool, abdominal pain and cramping, fevers due to infections from stool getting in contact with the blood within the intestine, fatigue, reduced appetite and weight loss (INX Medical, 2017).
Crohn’s Disease does not affect the lifespan of an individual. However, one of the complications of this disease is the development of colorectal cancer, which will increase the likelihood of decreased life expectancy in such patients (National Library of Medicine, 2018).
It is reported that approximately 8.85 new cases of Crohn’s Disease are reported per 100,000 people each year and that Crohn’s Disease currently affects approximately 780,000 people in the United States. Studies have found that the median age for diagnosis with Crohn’s Disease is 29.5 years of age (Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, 2014).
There are several long standing therapies that aid in times of exacerbation of Crohn’s Disease. Corticosteroid medications, the primary goal of which is the reduction of inflammation, will generally be used as second line therapy when keeping the disease in remission is not effectively achieved with diet management. If this is rendered ineffective, immunosuppressor medications are used that prevent inflammation by doing just what the name implies—suppressing the immune system—with that however, a whole new door of issues opens up. Other methods of managing the disease include the use of antibiotics, pain relievers, anti-diarrheals, and iron supplements (Pruthi S, 2018). When all else fails, the final and most invasive method of management is surgery where the damaged parts of the colon are removed and the healthy parts of the colon are rejoined to one another. This however, is generally not a permanent fix and the symptoms with more often than not return eventually (National Library of Medicine, 2018).
One of the more common genetic variations in the body which is linked to the development of Crohn’s disease is a mutation in the NOD2 gene. This protein has been found to be shorter that it would usually appear to be in those with Crohn’s Disease (National Human Genome Research Institute, 2011). This type of gene mutation is mostly associated with the common distribution of Crohn’s Disease in the ileum and the distal part of the large intestine. It is therefore thought to be unable to recognize and “read” the bacteria or viruses that would typically be targeted by this protein for destructions within the intestinal walls which allows them to bypass this checkpoint and proceed to cause inflammation and destruction within the intestine (National Human Genome Research Institute, 2011).


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