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Crohn's DiseaseCrohn’s Disease Causes

Let's Talk About Crohn's Disease Causes

Maddening but true: Experts can't point to a single cause for this challenging condition. Instead, research suggests a perfect storm of factors come together to wreak havoc on your digestive tract. Here’s what we know so far.

    Our Pro PanelCrohn's Disease Causes

    We went to some of the nation’s top Crohn’s experts to bring you the most scientific and up-to-date information possible.

    Jami Kinnucan, M.D.

    Jami Kinnucan, M.D.Gastroenterologist, IBD Specialist, and Assistant Professor of Medicine

    University of Michigan School of Medicine
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Neilanjan Nandi

    Neilanjan Nandi, M.D.Director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center

    Drexel University School of Medicine
    Philadelphia
    Frank I. Scott, M.D.

    Frank I. Scott, M.D.Gastroenterologist, IBD Specialist, and Assistant Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology

    University of Colorado School of Medicine
    Aurora, CO
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    Frequently Asked QuestionsCrohn’s Disease Causes

    I have a family history of Crohn’s disease. Can I do anything to keep myself from getting it?

    A family history doesn’t mean you will develop Crohn’s—most people don’t. Also, because there is more than one cause of the disease, it’s hard to predict who will get it. You can improve your odds of staying healthy by avoiding potential environmental triggers such as smoking and eating a highly processed diet.

    Does Crohn’s disease ever go away?

    Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition, meaning you’ll have it for life. That doesn’t mean you will always be suffering, however. Crohn’s has periods of remission—when there is no disease activity and little to no symptoms—and flares, when inflammation and symptoms return. With proper treatment, you can remain in remission for months or even years.

    I have a twin. Will he also get Crohn’s?

    The odds of that depend on whether you are identical or fraternal twins. When one identical twin develops Crohn’s, there is a one in three chance that the other twin will eventually have it as well. Fraternal twins have about the same risk of other siblings.

    Can I do anything to improve my microbiome?

    Yes! Eat a healthy and varied diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats, and avoid highly processed, sugar-packed foods. Regular exercise also promotes diversity of your gut flora, as does getting enough sleep.

    Stephanie Wood

    Stephanie Wood

    Stephanie Wood is a award-winning freelance writer and former magazine editor specializing in health, nutrition, wellness, and parenting.