Cohn’s disease (also known as Cohn’s syndrome) is a very common inflammatory bowel disease. What does it consist of and what are its symptoms?

It is estimated that one in 500 people suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the group of diseases that among other conditions includes ulcerative colitis and Cohn’s syndrome (also known medically as Cohn’sdisease). About 550,000 people suffer from inflammatory bowel disease in the United States, while it is believed that there are 3 or 4 new cases per 100,000 people each year.

As we can see, it is a disease that is affecting more and more people, and although it is true that it is not considered a life-threatening condition (less than 1,000 deaths are attributed to inflammatory bowel disease each year); it is indeed a condition that affects the quality of life of those who suffer from it.

What is Cohn’s disease?

We are facing a disease that causes swelling or inflammation and irritation in any part of the gastrointestinal tract (or digestive tube), that is, from the mouth to the anus.

But in most cases it mainly affects the ileum, which is the last portion of the small intestine. In fact, ulcerative or ulcerative colitis tends to affect the large intestine (which includes the colon and rectum) especially.

The long-term or chronic inflammation that causes this disease causes scar tissue to form in the lining of the intestine, so that when this tissue accumulates, the duct can become narrow, causing feces or the food we eat to pass more slowly through the digestive tract, and can cause characteristic symptoms such as colic, pain and diarrhea.

It is a chronic disease that alternates periods of outbreak with others of inactivity, although the symptoms that arise and appear at each moment actually depend on each person, so that there are people who have long periods without symptoms and without treatment, and others presenting severe symptoms with fairly frequent exacerbations.

Causes of Cohn’s disease

Until now, no research carried out has helped to know exactly what the real causes that cause the appearance of Cohn’s disease are. An important genetic influence has been identified, so that around 20% of people with this disease have relatives affected by this disorder.

Therefore, specialists establish a crystal clear cause: having a relative who suffers from the disease is one of the most important risk factors for developing an inflammatory bowel disease.

On the other hand, it is also known that affected people have an immune system that tends to overreact to bacteria or viruses that reach the intestine, causing an inflammatory reaction of the intestinal walls.

There are also other factors that would influence the appearance of this disease: habitual tobacco consumption and daily stress.

What are your symptoms?

The truth is that the symptoms of Cohn’s disease can vary from person to person.  However, there are some common symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain: which tends to be located in the lower right part of the abdomen? It gets worse after meals and improves when going to the bathroom.
  • Diarrhea: not usually accompanied by blood. It is common to make between 4 to 8 bowel movements per day.
  • Bleeding: observed when going to the bathroom or in underwear.
  • Weight loss: mostly involuntary, due to diarrhea or lack of appetite.
  • Vomiting: they are not as common but they can still occur.

As we can see, we are faced with common symptoms that may or may not appear from one person to another, just as some patients may have more severe or stronger symptoms compared to others.

We must also bear in mind that there are other organs that are affected by this disease.  Arthritis of the large or small joints of the arms and legs can arise, which worsens when flare-ups appear. Alterations also arise in the skin, mucous membranes and eyes.

On the other hand, it is common for people with Cohn’s disease to have a greater predisposition to developing kidney stones, especially due to the mild and continuous dehydration that occurs as a result of diarrhea.


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