Research suggests that Crohn’s disease may compromise the immune system. However, further research is needed to confirm whether there’s a direct link and whether the disease can be called an autoimmune disease.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic disease that results from inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Some experts believe that it may also be due to an overactive immune system, but not everyone in the medical community supports this claim.

Immune diseases occur when the immune system can’t distinguish between healthy and harmful tissue. This can lead to it attacking and damaging healthy tissue by mistake.

As Crohn’s disease attacks healthy bacteria in the GI tract, some experts believe that this means it’s an autoimmune disease.

This article will explore whether Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease and some other possible causes.

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There’s debate in the medical community about whether Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease.

A disease is considered an autoimmune disease when it attacks healthy cells in your body. In these cases, your immune system targets regularly functioning body parts instead of germs. Autoimmune diseases can affect all systems, including your joints, organs, and skin.

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These can act like other autoimmune diseases and may be classified as an autoimmune disease once researchers determine their exact cause.

There are many similarities between Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune diseases, including the following:

  • They are chronic.
  • Their symptoms can come and go.
  • They’re treatable with medications that slow your immune system.

If you’re immunocompromised, it means that your immune system might have a harder time responding to germs like viruses and bacteria. This can increase your risk of severe illnesses.

You’re not automatically immunocompromised if you have Crohn’s disease, as it can depend on many factors. These include:

  • medications you take for Crohn’s disease and other conditions
  • your health status, including whether you have other health conditions or have had surgery recently
  • your age
  • your genetic history

A doctor can inform you if you’re immunocompromised and suggest measures to keep in mind, like keeping away from people who are sick.

High risk groups

Certain groups have a higher risk of having a weakened immune system. These include:

  • adults over the age of 60 years
  • pregnant people and those who have recently given birth
  • people with an underlying health condition, like diabetes, chronic liver disease, or heart disease
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You may need to take medication that slows your immune system if you have Crohn’s disease. These can reduce your symptoms and stop the condition from getting worse.

However, some Crohn’s disease medications can alter your immune system, while some can’t. Medications that don’t alter your immune system include:

  • pain relievers
  • antidiarrheal medications
  • antibiotics (most of the time)

Several drugs are available for Crohn’s disease that can alter your immune system. They come as pills, injections, and infusions. These include:

  • corticosteroids
  • immunosuppressants
  • biologics

A doctor may suggest one of these medications early in your diagnosis.

You may experience remission with Crohn’s disease if you have no active symptoms for a long period. However, you may still need to take medication to keep your symptoms from flaring up.

It’s still unclear what exactly causes Crohn’s disease. Researchers believe that one or several factors could contribute to it.

It may be due to:

  • your immune system overreacting
  • changes to the organisms within your body
  • your family history
  • the environment

Crohn’s disease may also be more likely to develop if you smoke or take medications like birth control, antibiotics, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Your diet and stress levels may trigger symptom flares, but researchers don’t believe they cause the disease.

Crohn’s disease may affect your quality of life and shorten your life span. A 2020 study suggests that people with IBDs have a life expectancy that can be 5 to 8 years shorter than that of those without these diseases.

Crohn’s disease may also lead to other conditions, like:

It’s important to remember that Crohn’s disease is manageable. Various treatment options can help decrease inflammation and keep the disease in remission.

Consider speaking with a doctor if you think you may have Crohn’s disease. They can put together a tailored treatment plan based on your symptoms, specific needs, and medical history.

Some experts believe that Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease. However, you’re not automatically immunocompromised if you have Crohn’s disease, as it can depend on many factors. A doctor can help you understand your immunity status.

It’s important to diagnose and treat Crohn’s disease early to prevent it from progressing. If Crohn’s disease or its treatment affects your immune system, it may be beneficial to incorporate lifestyle measures, like keeping away from people who are sick.