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What is Crohn's disease, what causes the condition and just how serious can it be?

Crohn's disease is a long term condition where all or at least part of the digestive tract becomes inflamed.

It can affect your mouth all the way down to your anus, with the most serious problems occurring in the bowel where the inflammation can lead to ulceration.

As well as a general feeling of being unwell, the primary symptoms of Crohn's disease include fever, weight loss, diarrhea, stomach pains and slight bleeding from the anus.

The exact cause of Crohn's disease is still unknown but experts believe it can be hereditary and often exacerbated by smoking or a poor diet.

Treatment for the disease depends on the stage of the condition. For mild cases cases with minor inflammation following a strict diet of simple, non-rich foods is sometimes all that is needed. If this doesn't work steroids and antibiotics are usually used.

In more serious cases of the disease where there is significant swelling and inflammation, the patient may need to be admitted to hospital to receive all fluids and nutrients intravenously. This gives the digestive system a complete rest and allows the body to return to its normal healthy state.

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