Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a generic term for a group of disorders in which the intestines become inflamed. The two major types of IBD are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
Normally, the immune system protects the body from infections by attacking foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses, and other toxins. Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune disorder, in which the immune cells mistakenly attack the cells of the intestines and produce chronic inflammation. Crohn’s can involve any location of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but it usually affects the small intestine and/or the colon.
The exact cause of Crohn’s is unknown, but there are some environmental and genetic factors that may contribute to the development of the disease. Certain foods such as red meat and alcohol may cause inflammation, and smoking has been shown to worsen Crohn’s. People who have a first degree relative with IBD have an increased risk of developing the disease.