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Crohn’s disease: what are the causes and symptoms?

Credits: Genetics Home Reference - NIH

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory illness which affects the digestive system. Bethany Townsend, a 25 year old English model who suffers from the disease, shared this photo of herself on Facebook in order to inspire others to accept their bodies and their ostomy bags. These bags link the colon to the abdominal wall. 

What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is a chronic or long term inflammation of the digestive system. It can affect any part of the digestive system, from the mouth to the anus, but in most cases, it attacks the small intestine, where it joins with the colon (the ileum).

This inflammation leads to a failure of the immune system, which usually protects the body and destroys ‘bad bacteria’.

Crohn’s disease is usually hereditary, and affects people of all ages, although it usually appears between the ages of 13 and 30. 

The illness goes through various stages of remission and activity.

An example of acceptance

Bethany Townsend has lived with Crohn’s disease since she was 3 years old, and has had 4 operations. At only 19 years of age, doctors removed 40 cm of her intestines and since then, she lives with two ostomy bags, which collect the waste products from the bowels.

By sharing her photo on the Crohn’s and Colitis organisation’s Facebook page (a British association for prevention and awareness of Crohn’s disease), Bethany wanted to fully accept her illness and how it looks, and to encourage other people with Crohn’s disease to do the same, as well as talking openly about it, telling their stories and making people more aware of the illness. 

Two factors can increase the risk of developing Crohn’s disease:

  • heredity
  • smoking

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease

  • Bloating in the lower abdomen due to digestion difficulties
  • pain and cramps (often located in the back right corner of the abdomen), a feeling of empty intestines or an empty colon
  • diarrhea
  • rectal bleeding
  • weight loss
  • fever
  • ulcers (a complication)

Sources : Huffington Post, Maladie de Crohn