Although there are many theories about what causes Crohn’s disease, none of them have been proven. There is a benefit, though, in understanding the possible causes of Crohn’s disease and how they interact with one another. Doing so can help one better understand the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Crohn’s disease.
Scientists believe that Crohn’s disease is caused by a combination of these factors:
Immune system problems
How might each of these factors contribute to Crohn’s disease? Read on to learn more.
How do immune system problems relate to Crohn’s disease? Scientists have linked immune system problems to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s. Usually, cells of the immune system defend the body from harmful microbes — bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other foreign substances — that have entered it. The body doesn’t usually respond to all microbes, however. Many microbes are helpful, especially for digestion. And so the immune system leaves them alone.
Is genetics connected to Crohn’s disease? Brothers, sisters, children, and parents of persons with IBD, including Crohn’s disease, are slightly more likely to develop the disease themselves. About 10% to 20% of people with Crohn’s disease have at least one other family member who also has the disease. The condition is more common in certain ethnic groups, such as Jews, and is more prevalent in Caucasians.
Do environmental factors play a role in Crohn’s disease, too? Environmental factors may help trigger Crohn’s disease. Also, it should be noted that because a potential trigger is linked or associated to a condition does not mean that it causes it. Associated environmental factors may include any of the following:
Substances from something you’ve eaten
Microbes such as bacteria or viruses
Other substances that are yet unknown