Immune System Response: In people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—like Crohn’s—the immune system responds inappropriately to the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in inflammation.
Genetics and Heredity: Certain genes are connected to susceptibility of the disease, but this does not absolutely predict that the disease will occur.
Environmental Factors: While not fully identified, these can serve as “triggers” to initiate a harmful immune response in the gastrointestinal tract.
Connecting Crohn’s and the Immune System
The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together in order to protect the body. Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease—which means the immune system attacks itself rather than bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders.
Leading to an Overreaction of the Immune Response
Normally, harmless bacteria in the GI tract (many of which aid in digestion) aren't harmed by the immune system response. But with Crohn’s, these bacteria are mistaken for harmful invaders—triggering cells to travel out of the blood to the gastrointestinal tract, producing inflammation.
Causing Crohn’s Symptoms When Inflammation Doesn’t Subside
With Crohn’s, once the inflammatory response is triggered by the immune system, it doesn’t subside. This may lead to:
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Men and women equally
People of any age but often starts between ages 15 to 35
People of any racial or ethnic group but is mainly found in developed countries
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*Eligibility restricted to patients diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.