Heard of it? Know someone that has it? Crohn’s disease… sounds like the name of a disease for old people doesn’t it? No one likes to discuss this illness, because the symptoms are not pretty. Seriously… who wants to talk about gas, bloating and diarrhea? Stomach pains and all that goes with it? It’s not a glamorous disease that is for sure. But it is one that is gaining in numbers. Over the last few decades the number of people diagnosed with IBD, Colitis and Crohn’s has tripled. It makes the medical community and those who suffer with it wonder what is going on?

It is named after the man that discovered it – Dr. Burrill B. Crohn. He first described the disease back in 1932 with two other doctors but the disease goes back further than this.  Medical historians say it might have been discovered as far back as the 1600’s. But they dropped the ball because they could not find the cause. Jump ahead to the early 1900’s and Dr. Crohn. Who picked the ball back up and made it his mission to figure it out. To date there is still no known cause, and no specific cure.

What I have learned is that the medical community believes the causes on how we contract it ranges from the air that we breathe (pollution) to the foods that we eat (chemically processed) and stress. There is also some link to cow’s milk. The way it is processed and the bacteria within. This is why many who suffer with Crohn’s become lactose intolerant. Only speculation. But it is more prevalent now than ever before. More and more of the population are contracting this difficult disease.

If you have Crohn’s, you know it is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects any or the entire gastrointestinal tract. Milder forms of it are called Colitis, which only affect the large intestine, and IBS. (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). IBS can affect both the large and small intestine, but it is a milder form of Crohn’s. It can be treated and in most cases cured. Crohn’s affects both the large and small intestine, but tends to mostly affect the lower small intestine around the ileum. Crohn’s is classified medically as an autoimmune disorder. This means that your body is producing antibodies that work against it. When you have Crohn’s disease, your body’s immune system begins attacking healthy cells in your gastro-intestinal tract, causing inflammation.

I have had Crohn’s since I was 20 years old. I think I have read every medical journal and anything on the subject that I could get my hands on. At times I think I know just as much, if not more, than the medical community! Only because I suffer with it. I have undergone four bowel resections and numerous other surgeries because in the past there was no specific drug for it. I am missing 13 feet of bowel. After having this for so many years, I have been classified as chronic. (Chronic is a human health condition or disease that is persistent or otherwise long-lasting in its effects or a disease that comes with time).

As I said earlier, since way back then, the medical community has seen a significant rise in the number of cases of Crohn’s, Colitis and IBS. It’s becoming wide spread, and scientists and doctors have still yet to come up with a reason or cure. There have been new tests that have come a long way in diagnosing the disease. Many new drugs are on the horizon and many have been able to manage with the new technology. So fellow sufferers have more hope. So keep the faith, there seems to be a lot of great things developing in the scientific community to find a cure for this. There is always a new drug on the horizon. Currently I am in a clinical study for a new drug – I have been doing this for going on 10 years now at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Just remember, keep asking questions. If you do not feel satisfied with the answers you get, always get a second opinion. Doctors are not gods, they are human, and one opinion won’t be the same as the next.

I hope in the coming blogs to dispel the myths and any other issues for my fellow suffers and talk about drugs, treatments, side effects and other issues about this at times debilitating disease.