This 1 Drug Could CAUSE Crohn’s Disease!

By on March 14, 2014
Diarrhea, constant abdominal pain, and even vomiting–as vague as these symptoms are, they’re often clear signs of Crohn’s disease, an inflammation disease. Yet until now, researchers didn’t know what caused it.

But now a new study reported by Live Science says they’ve just discovered the cause: A dangerous imbalance in gut bacteria.

“These findings can guide the development of better diagnostics,” says Dr. Ramnik Xavier from the Massachusetts General Hospital, who helped write the study. “More importantly, our study identified specific organisms that are abnormally increased or decreased in disease, which forms a blueprint to develop microbial therapeutics.”

Crohn’s disease is a inflammatory disease that is often hard to diagnose due to its vast but vague side effects–including diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and rectal bleeding. Because there haven’t been any reliable methods to diagnose the condition either, many people go undiagnosed and live with the pain. Sadly, there isn’t a way to cure it either–the symptoms can be only be managed, with some becoming so severe they require hospitalization, according to the National Institutes of Health.

This study, however, not only sheds light on why this disease exists in the first place, but also reveals ways to treat it.

“Crohn’s disease is treatable, but not curable,” says Lori Mahajan, a Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital pediatric gastroenterologist, who did not participate in the study. “It really can change the way we treat disease in the future.”

The Study

Recruiting a total of 447 people diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, researchers collected tissue samples from their intestines, the area most commonly affected by this disease. They then compared the samples against intestinal tissue collected from 221 people who did not have this condition but suffered from noninflammatory digestive conditions, such as diarrhea and abdominal pain.

In addition, they also aided their research by looking at 1,742 tissues samples from children and adults who had participated in other studies.

After analyzing the data, they observed something astonishing: Those with Crohn’s disease had more “bad” bacteria in their intestines, overriding the natural balance of gut bacteria. Those who did not have Crohn’s disease did not have these imbalances, however.

Worse yet, researchers found that this imbalance worsened with the use of antibiotics–something often used to treat Crohn’s disease.

“I think it is an impressive study, just based on the size,” says Mahajan. “As gastroenterologists, we often use antibiotics as the first line of therapy in our treatment of patients with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis [also an inflammatory bowel disease], so that really poses big questions for all of us.”

Because the study didn’t focus on which specific antibiotics triggered an imbalance in gut bacteria, researchers weren’t able to find which antibiotics were worse for Crohn’s disease patients. To find that out, they’ll need to do further studies–but it’s safe to say for now that using antibiotics to treat this disease probably isn’t a good idea.

What Should You Do?

Suffer from Crohn’s disease? Then there’s finally an answer to the cause of your disease–and it may just lie in the drugs used to treat your condition. As for ways to stop the imbalance in gut bacteria, there may be two ways to do it: By eating more foods containing “good “bacteria (think yogurt or kimchi) and by avoiding drugs that can worsen this balance, such as antibiotics. Make sure to discuss this with your doctor beforehand, however.

Readers: What else do you do to manage your Crohn’s disease symptoms?

Crohn’s Disease Caused by Antibiotics?

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