Is Crohn’s Disease Genetic?

Whiteboard with the words Crohn's Disease

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a bowel disease that creates inflammation within the sensitive lining of the digestive tract. Any portion of the digestive tract can be affected, from the mouth to the anus. Inflammation can become very serious and cause systematic health issues.

What Causes Crohn’s Disease?

The exact causes of Crohn’s disease are unclear, although genetics do play a major role. A person may develop Crohn’s at any age, but it is most likely to appear in the 20s. Both women and men are affected by Crohn’s, and it occurs at roughly the same rate by gender.

A number of environmental risk factors are believed to contribute to Crohn’s. Your doctor can provide a number of tests that will help isolate these factors. Ultimately, Crohn’s is the end result of changes in the bacterial environment of the digestive tract, leading to dysfunction.

Is Crohn's Hereditary?

There are significant genetic risk factors involved in developing Crohn’s disease. Certain genetic mutations make the disease more likely, although no specific combination of genetic traits can guarantee that a person will experience the disease at any phase of life.

Genetic risks are believed to be somewhat higher in those of Jewish ancestry. Regardless of ancestral background, anywhere from 5% to 22% of people diagnosed with this disorder have a parent, sibling, or child who also exhibits it.

What Are Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?

Common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:

  • Pain and cramping in the abdomen
  • Frequent diarrhea or constipation
  • Fever
  • Fatigue not caused by exertion or other known conditions
  • Perianal disease
  • Inflammation of the eyes, joints, skin, bile ducts, or liver
  • Slowed growth in children

How is Crohn's Diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins by taking a comprehensive medical history. A number of tests can be used to provide an accurate assessment of whether symptoms are attributable to Crohn’s or some other health concern.  Radiological testing is frequently used to visualize digestive tract health.

If radiological testing reveals areas of concern in the digestive tract, additional tests are used to check for signs of anemia and blood in the stool. In some cases, a colonoscopy is performed: This uses a specialized camera to check the colon for inflammation.

The outcome of the previous tests influences next steps in any plan of care. A number of detailed diagnostic imaging strategies may be used. Diagnostic criteria for Crohn’s disease is specific, so the incidence of misdiagnosis is low when the appropriate tests are performed.

How is Crohn’s Disease Treated?

There is no known cure for Crohn’s disease. However, treatment can significantly reduce the symptoms and enhance the quality of life. The principal goal of treatment is to ensure progressive inflammation does not lead to major systemic problems or organ damage.

Treatment includes a combination of medication and surgery based on the specific symptoms the sufferer experiences. In some cases, dietary and lifestyle changes may also help. With ongoing care from a doctor, Crohn’s should have no significant effect on lifespan.

The disease can go into complete remission (become asymptomatic) for months or even years. However, it is always important to remain under a doctor’s care and be alert to any changes.

No matter whether you suspect Crohn’s disease, are newly diagnosed, or have managed the disease for some time, Allied Digestive Disease Center can help you. Our expert team provides compassionate care in a state of the art environment right here in Houston.

To find out more or get started, simply contact us today. We look forward to helping you.

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