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Crohn's Disease (Regional Enteritis)

Posted Jan 25 2011 12:00am

Crohn's disease, also known as regional enteritis or granulomatous colitis, is an inflammation of any part of the gastrointestinal tract that involves all the layers of the intestinal wall. Most commonly it affects the terminal ileum and proximal colon. But it can affect any part of the G.I tract.

The disease was named after Dr. Burrill Bernard Crohn, who was an American gastroenterologist. In 1932, Dr Crohn and two other colleagues published a landmark paper describing the features of the disease.
What are the risk factors of Crohn's disease ?
1. Smokers are at a higher risk of having Crohn's disease. Smoking is the most important risk factor.]
2. Age: most individuals are diagnosed at the age of 20-30.
3. Race: Ashkenazi Jews are at a higher risk.
4. Individuals who have a first-degree relative (parents, siblings or children) diagnosed with Crohn's disease.
5. Eating a diet rich in fats, low in fibre and high in refined sugar increases the risk.

The exact cause of Crohn's disease is unknown. It is believed that it is due to a combination of genetic factors, environmental factors and immunologic abnormalities.

What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease ?

The symptoms depend on the region of the GIT affected. There are two main categories for presentation:
- Acute Crohn's disease: it occurs in only 5% of the cases and it resembles acute appendicitis.
- Chronic Crohn's disease:
The patient usually presents with a history of diarrhoea (that may be associated with blood in stools) that had been extending over many months, occuring in bouts accompanied by intestinal colic. Weight loss, intermittent fever and anaemia can be present. 
After repeated attacks of inflammation, the affected area of the intestine begins to narrow with fibrosis and causes obstructive symptoms. 

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