Crohns Disease Information and Support


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Crohns Disease
Information and Support



Click here for images of Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Nobody wants Crohn's Disease, and those who have it didn't do anything to cause it. Not through diet, stress or adding alcohol or drugs does this happen. Crohn's disease affects approximately 380,000 to 480,000 persons in the United States. Since you are here, I feel it safe to assume you either have it or have a loved one with it. I hope you find these pages helpful.

This disease is believed by some scientists and researchers to be caused by a glitch in the chromosome sequence, making it a potentially inheireted condition. Other scientists and researchers believe it can be triggered by a bacteria of some kind, and maybe they are both right. No one has been able to establish a cause, and therefore there is no cure. There are 5 different types of Crohn's Disease, and it is very important that you know which type you have in order to be able to understand it and cope with it. Click here to reach the page on Types of Crohn's Disease.

Whatever the cause, Crohn's disease is a terrible and life-altering illness to live with. I know, I have it. The type I have is Crohn's (Granulomatous) Colitis: Affects the colon only. Symptoms include diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, bloating, rectal bleeding, and disease around the anus (abscess, fistulas, ulcers)

I was 39 years old before I got sick, all my life I was always pretty healthy, and no one in my family has Crohns Disease so it is hard for me to figure the reason it has hit me, I am always asking "why me".

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For me, about 5 years before I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, the disease presented itself with a single blister on my lower leg, which turned black and I got a systemic infection. They told me it was a brown recluse spider bite. This happened 3 times within 2 years. (Read My Story). Looking back, I can now understand that it was the disease presenting itself as Pyoderma Gangrenosum, a blistering, disfiguring and potentially life threatening extraintestinal manifestation of Crohn's. See Extraintestinal Manifestations for a complete explanation of Pyoderma Gangrenosum.

All of the information contained in these pages is fact, learned through hundreds of hours of research and reading, by talking to a friend who is a doctor, another friend who is an ARNP (Accredited Registered Nurse Practicioner), and many other friends in the medical field like LPN's, RN's, Registered Dieticians, Nutritionists and Speech Pathologists. Some info has come directly from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) itself, or gleaned from databases on the internet.

I want to know all about this ailment, what it is that has taken my life and turned it upside down, and I want to help myself if I can, and at the same time if anyone else can benefit from all the work I have done, then wonderful! That is the reason for this site.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a general term that covers two disorders: ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. There is some evidence to suggest that they are part of a biologic continuum, but at this time they are considered to be distinct disorders with somewhat different treatment options. The basic distinctions are location and severity. It should be noted that as many as 10% of patients with IBD have findings and symptoms that match the criteria for both disorders, at least in the early stages (a situation called indeterminate colitis).

Current medical treatments of Crohn's disease are expensive. It is most assuredly not a poor man's disease by any means. In a study conducted in 1990 in the USA, it was estimated that the average expenditure per year was $6,561 on every Crohn's disease patient in this country. Fourteen years of inflation must place todays expenditure figure as higher, since medical treatments have changed much since that time. We now have a drug called Infliximab [ Remicade ], that was originally developed for Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers but has been discovered to be extremely beneficial to Crohn's patients.

The total expenditure in the USA in 1990 was between $1,000,000,000 and $1,200,000,000. Again, this must have increased, not only due to the increased cost of treatment, but also to the increased number of sufferers of the disease.

It is difficult to know how many people in the world suffer from Crohn's disease. Based on the epidemiology research from the United States, Crohn's disease affects approximately 380,000 to 480,000 persons in the United States. The population of the United States is roughly 275 million people. Here is a table with anatomical percentages as well as a table determining the prevalence per capita:

Anatomic distribution of Crohn's Disease
Parts of bowel affected Percentage of cases
Small bowel only 30%
Small bowel and colon 50%
Colon only 20%

Crohn's disease occurs throughout the world, estimated between 10 and 100 cases per 1,000,000 people. We can't seem to pin it down any further because of those that go undiagnosed and misdiagnosed for many years. Crohn's Diseaser occurs most frequently among people of European origin, and is 3 to 8 times more common among Jews than among non-Jews, and is more common among caucasions than other races. Although the disorder can begin at any age, it most often occurs between 15 and 30 years of age. The typical Crohn's patient is a young adult just beginning their life outside their parents home. There appears to be a family link of patients with Crohn's disease such that 20-30% of patients with Crohn's disease have a family history of some sort of inflammatory bowel disease or other gastrointestinal disorder. My mother had Diverticulitis and died from stomach cancer in 1990 at the age of 61.  

Epidemiology of inflammatory bowel disease
Factor Ulcerative colitis Crohn's disease

Incidence (per 100,000) 2-10 1-6
Prevalence (per 100,000) 35-100 10-100
Racial incidence High in whites High in whites
Ethnic incidence High in Jews High in Jews
Sex Slight female preponderance Slight female preponderance

The cause of inflammatory bowel disease has not yet been determined. The abnormalities of T cells and/or macrophages and their interaction still remains the most likely cause. In synthesizing existing literature, one could propose the following sequence of pathological events leading to the development of inflammatory bowel disease. The gastrointestinal immune system becomes exposed to a mucosal antigen, perhaps even an antigen normally present within the lumen -i.e., a bacterial constituent of normal flora. However, on this occasion the antigen does not evoke the typical antigen-specific suppressor T-cell activity, which would be mucosal unresponsiveness. Rather, because of an antigen-specific immunoregulatory defect, it evokes helper T-cell activity and sets in play an ongoing immune response. This immune response as an epiphenomenon leads eventually to the development of self-antigens and appearance of autoantibodies. Subsequently, in an attempt to down-regulate the antigen-specific response, antigen-nonspecific suppressor T cells appear. Initially, these antigen-nonspecific suppressor T cells may prevent disease progression; however, they are gradually depleted, leaving the unregulated antigen-specific helper T-cell activity to predominate. This unregulated antigen-specific immune response leads to the production of lymphokines, which stimulate migration of inflammatory and cytolytic cells to the region. Through this process the microscopic and gross morphological changes of inflammatory bowel disease are manifest.

To see what your Crohn's Disease Activity Score is, check out the CDAI ( Crohn's Disease Activity Index)

On behalf of learning, and use as teaching tools for those of us who need to know about our disease, I have tried to supply you with as much information as I could find on all of the drugs, treatments and disorders associated with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, and specifically Crohn's Disease. I have tried to blend all facts supported by research and also from personal experiences of other IBD sufferers into one readable website, and any and all information presented here is not entirely from one source. Most information contained within these pages is found in the public domain. At times you may find information used from another site, and as with all copyrighted materials you may find on these pages, I claim fair use under sections 107 through 118 of the Copyright Act (title 17, U.S. Code). Click here for more info on this code

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