The exact cause of Crohn's disease is unknown, but there are some factors that increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Dr. Malone, can you tell us about the risk factors for Crohn's disease?
Sure, Major Spencer. Risk factors for Crohn's disease include:
- Age: Symptoms usually start between the ages of 15 and 35, with a second peak in the 50s and 60s, although being this age alone is not a specific risk factor.
- Family history: Having a first-degree relative with Crohn's disease can increase the risk of developing the condition by 10 to 15 times compared to the general population.
- Smoking: People who smoke tend to have more severe symptoms and are at higher risk of needing surgery. Autoimmune reaction: Normally, the immune system protects the body from infection by identifying and destroying "enemies" of the body, such as bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful foreign substances. In the case of Crohn's disease, the immune system thinks the digestive tract is the "enemy." It's thought that bacteria and viruses mistakenly trigger the immune system to attack the digestive tract, which causes inflammation. (and)
- Other autoimmune diseases: Having an autoimmune disease increases the risk for developing other autoimmune conditions, such as Crohn's disease.