Crohn’s Disease is a fairly common inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any area of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (Bornstein & Steinhagen, 2015). The main clinical signs of Crohn’s are pains in the abdomen, changes in stool consistency and frequency, frequent or unexplained fevers, and weight loss (Bornstein & Steinhagen, 2015). As Crohn’s is a disease that affects the digestive system, it also causes a number of changes in digestive function. The main cause of the symptoms of Crohn’s is inflammation, which generally follows a transmural pattern that can be identified through a colonoscopy and biopsies of the GI tract (Bornstein & Steinhagen, 2015). Ulceration is also present, which is a major cause of the pain issues associated with Crohn’s. These two issues are caused by the infiltration of neutrophils into the epithelial lining of the GI tract, then entering the crypts causing cryptitis or crypt abscess (Baumgart & Sandborn, 2012). Granulomas are also common in Crohn’s disease and can lead to damage in the mucosa (Baumgart & Sandborn, 2012).
These changes in the GI tract can lead to a variety of changes in the function of the digestive system, depending on the area that is inflamed. One of the main symptoms, diarrhea, is caused by ileitis or colitis, and means that these areas are unable to process nutrients in the typical way, leading to changes in feces (Baumgart & Sandborn, 2012). There may also be blood in the stool, which is caused by the ulcers and irritation from inflammation. Intestinal stenosis can also be an issue for people with Crohn’s disease, and leads to the clinical symptom of abdominal pain, as well as vomiting and nausea in some patients (Baumgart & Sandborn, 2012). Again, the changes in the GI tract impact on digestive functioning, but the extent and type of these changes depends on both the patient and the area of the GI tract affected.
- Baumgart, D. C., & Sandborn, W. J. (2012). Crohn’s disease. The Lancet, 380(9853), 1590–1605.
- Bornstein, J. E., & Steinhagen, R. M. (2015). History of Crohn’s Disease. In Crohn’s Disease (pp. 1–13). Springer. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-14181-7_1