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Clinical Evidence for Efficacy & Safety of FDA-Approved Crohn's Disease TreatmentsA Living Systematic Meta-Analysis
Methodologically Reviewed By: Daniel Nadler, PhD (Harvard)
Updated: Feb. 6, 2023
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Background Information
Understanding Crohn's Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and irritation in your digestive tract. Most commonly, Crohn’s affects your small intestine and the beginning of your large intestine. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

Crohn’s disease most often begins gradually and can become worse over time. You may have periods of remission that can last for weeks or years. Crohn’s disease can develop in people of any age and is more likely to develop in people:

  • between the ages of 20 and 29
  • who have a family member, most often a sibling or parent, with IBD
  • who smoke cigarettes

The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are:

  • diarrhea
  • cramping and pain in your abdomen
  • weight loss

Other symptoms include:

  • anemia
  • eye redness or pain
  • feeling tired
  • fever
  • joint pain or soreness
  • nausea or loss of appetite
  • skin changes that involve red, tender bumps under the skin

Your symptoms may vary depending on the location and severity of your inflammation.

Doctors aren’t sure what causes Crohn’s disease. One cause of Crohn’s disease may be an autoimmune reaction—when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body. Experts think bacteria in your digestive tract can mistakenly trigger your immune system. This immune system response causes inflammation, leading to symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease sometimes runs in families. Research has shown that if you have a parent or sibling with Crohn’s disease, you may be more likely to develop the disease.

Some research suggests that stress, including the stress of living with Crohn’s disease, can make symptoms worse. Also, some people may find that certain foods can trigger or worsen their symptoms. A high-fat diet may also slightly increase your chance of getting Crohn’s disease. Smoking may double your chance of developing Crohn’s disease.

If you have Crohn’s disease in your large intestine, you may be more likely to develop colon cancer. If you receive ongoing treatment for Crohn’s disease and stay in remission, you may reduce your chances of developing colon cancer.

Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
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