Crohn's disease is an auto-immune disorder which affects the intestines - can be either small bowel, colon or both. It is not infectious or contagious. It is not curable, but treatable. Doctors don't know why Crohn's occurs, but suspect genetic and environmental factors.
I was just diagnosed with Crohns this Summer and have been trying to educate myself. This is what I've learned so far. Like the above poster said, Crohns Disease is an auto-immune disease. It can affect anywhere in the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus although it's usually located more in the Terminal Ileum, the very end of the small intestine where it hooks up to the large intestine.
You know how your white blood cells go on attack when you're sick or have an infection? And then when you're better, the body stops mass producing the white blood cells and settles back down. Well, with people with Crohns, the white blood cells goes on attack thinking there's a foreign invader and doesn't shut back off. It just keeps attacking. This is what causes the ulcers and inflamation. At least that's what was explained to me in layman's terms. Does that make sense?
There's different degrees to Crohns too. Some people have a very mild case and only a few flare ups in a year or can even go through remission for awhile with no flare ups. Some people have a more severe case of it and have ulcers all along their intestines. So far, mine hasn't been too bad. Sometimes you have to have surgery if you get a blockage or constriction to correct things. There is a higher risk of colon cancer with people who have Crohns too. The good thing about that though is that colon cancer is like 95% curable if caught early. And now that your boyfriend's been diagnosed with Crohns, they will be keeping an eye on things and he will be seen regularly and get colonoscopys as often as the doctor thinks they're needed.
There is medication that can help with flare ups. As the above poster said, there is no cure but people can live a long, happy life with little disruption from this. It's almost like Diabetes. You just become more aware of your health, take your medication and take care of yourself the best you can.
They still don't know what causes it. It can be genetic although no one in my family has it, although my grandmother had colon cancer so I try to be aware and careful. They say more Jewish people tend to get it. I don't know why. They don't think it's diet related but could be part genetic, part environmental.
If he's interesed, he can check out ccfa.org (The Crohns and Colitis Foundation Of America). There's a lot of information there that can help.
I hope any of this helps. Try not to let this scare you. It's a disease yes, but it's a livable disease. And he will learn how to take care of himself and get the proper treatment. He can live a long, full life. It shouldn't interfere with his every day activities. He can be involved in sports, ect. as much as he wants. People aren't going to know unless he tells them.
The more you guys educate yourselves, the more in control you will feel and it won't feel so scary. I wish you guys the best. Write back if you have any more questions. There are so great people on here who can help answer your questions. Lizzie's a great one to talk to. She's had Crohns for many years. She has a wealth of information she can give you. Take care & God bless you guys.
April - I had to change my screen name this week as was unable to log in. I used dizzybuff38, which I had registered before. I have informed Medhelp and they have given me a new password for lizziecee, will see if it works.
McCrones - if I can help in any way, please let me know.
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