Why is Family History the Biggest Risk for Crohn’s and Colitis?

Talking about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colitis, while not always easy, is important.  Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most common types of IBD, conditions that cause inflammation in the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease can develop anywhere along the digestive tract, from the mouth to anus, while, ulcerative colitis only affects the colon and the rectum.  Sometimes, even for seasoned physicians, it can be difficult to make a precise diagnosis.  Both conditions can share symptoms of abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea and weight loss.

Family history is an influential risk factor for developing IBD. About 12% of people with Crohn’s disease and about 9% of people with ulcerative colitis have a confirmed family history.  Having a first-degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister or child) with IBD increases your risk with the disease. If your mother and your father have IBD, you have a one in three chance of being affected.

However, most folks with IBD do not have a family history.  If you have IBD, then encourage family members with digestive symptoms to call a gastroenterologist.  IBD can also increase the risk of colon cancer so a colonoscopy may be advised at a younger age. 

Is it time you or a loved one contact a gastroenterologist about IBD or another GI matter?  We are here to help with all of your digestive needs.  For your convenience, appointments can be scheduled here.