Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly what causes inflammatory bowel disease. One possible reason for IBD is that the immune system goes haywire. Instead of attacking an invading virus or bacteria, the immune system begins to attack healthy intestinal tissue.
Dr. Popli says, “There are genetic predispositions that cause people to have these conditions.” Heredity does seem to play a role in IBD; we know you are predisposed to have the disease if you have a close relative that has the illness.
There are slightly different risk factors for the two types of inflammatory bowel disease.
For ulcerative colitis, age may be a factor. Most people are diagnosed before age 30, or after age 60. Race and ethnicity may also be a factor as people of Jewish descent seem to have a higher risk of ulcerative colitis than other ethnic groups.
Cigarette smoking can contribute to developing Crohn’s disease as well as causing other health problems. We also know that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) can cause Crohn’s. This includes over-the-counter medications like Advil, Motrin IB, Aleve, or others. There also seems to be a correlation between Crohn’s and a diet high in fat.
Dr. Popli says, “Usually there’s an interaction with something in the environment that triggers these cases.” A recent study shows environmental factors probably have a major role in IBD as well. The research mentions antibiotic use, NSAID use, diet, urban environments, and even air pollution may be linked.