Not too surprisingly, smoking has been linked with a greater risk of developing an IBD, according to Healthline.com. In fact, the source says it’s “one of the main risk factors for developing Crohn’s disease.”
On top of that, smoking can also make the symptoms of Crohn’s worse, and can increase the chance of complications from the disease, it adds. On the flipside, ulcerative colitis seems to target non-smokers and former smokers, it notes.
The Mayo Clinic says that using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication (without steroids) may end up causing inflammation of your digestive tract.
In particular, the source names ibuprofen (including Advil, Motrin IB, and others) as well as naproxen sodium (Aleve) as possible risk links. Meanwhile, diclofenac sodium (Voltaren) may also be connected to a higher risk, according to the source.
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation explains that ulcerative colitis is caused by an abnormal response by your immune system, causing your immune system to mistake food and bacteria in the gut as invaders. “When this happens, the body sends white blood cells into the lining of the intestines, where they produce chronic inflammation and ulcerations,” it adds.
The autoimmune response is similar in patients with Crohn’s disease, says the source – the “harmless bacteria” that aids digestion are targeted by an immune response, it adds. The 2-diseases affect different areas of the digestive tract – Crohn’s often is found in the end of the small intestine (although it can appear anywhere along the tract), while colitis is found only in the large intestine.