Posted 27 Apr 2020

Facts and figures for Crohn’s Disease in the UK

Here’s some useful information about Crohn’s Disease which will also help to explain how it affects insurance underwriting. Your medical condition is not life-threatening, however, it can have an impact on applying for life cover.

Our guides are just a bit of information that we’ve gathered over the years which can be useful if you don’t already know it.

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a lifelong (chronic) medical condition so once you have it you then it will remain in your body for the rest of your life. The condition is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which causes inflammation in your digestive tract. The inflammation that this causes can also very often spread deeper into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Crohn’s disease is usually painful and potentially debilitating which can also sometimes develop into life-threatening complications.

There is currently no known cure for this condition, however, there are therapeutic treatments that can dramatically reduce symptoms. If effectively treated, Crohn’s disease can be mild and you could experience long periods of remission which means that impact on lifestyle can be minimal.

Some of the main symptoms of Crohn’s disease:

  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Blood in stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness
  • High Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mouth sores

Symptoms for people with more severe Crohn’s disease:

  • Skin, eyes, and joints can inflame
  • Liver and bile duct inflammation
  • Children may grow more slowly
  • Slower sexual development in children

There are several different levels at which a person might experience the impact of this type of condition on the body. Some people with Crohn’s disease might only have the last section of the small intestine (ileum) affected, whereas others may be confined to the colon. These are the main areas of the body that are affected by Crohn’s disease.

Symptoms of this particular condition can vary dramatically from extremely mild or none at all (remission) to extremely severe and life-threatening. These symptoms can also often build up slowly, but can also be acute and develop very suddenly.

What causes Crohn’s disease?

It is still not known what exactly causes Crohn’s disease to develop and there have been a number of theories over the years by the medical profession. Previously it was suspected that higher levels of stress and a poor diet cause the condition but it is now known that these simply aggravate it. Some of the main things that we now know about Crohn’s disease include:

  • Family History (hereditary) influences can play a part in people developing Crohn’s disease as people like this are potentially more susceptible. This is however not the main cause as most people who develop this condition have no family history or genetic links
  • Immune System is also another potential cause whereby a bacteria or virus can potentially result in developing Crohn’s disease. Our immune system is the bodies defense against foreign organisms, this can also result in the immune system attacking the digestive tract

There also a number of risk factors which can play a significant part in whether or not you are likely to develop this type of medical condition such as:

  • Age: most people who are diagnosed are usually under 30 years of age.
  • Nicotine: smokers are more likely to develop Crohn’s disease which is also the most controllable factor.
  • Ethnicity: it is known that people of a certain ethnic background are more likely to develop this condition (e.g. Caucasian, including Eastern European and Jewish descent).
  • The environment: can also play a part as people who live in built-up urban and industrial areas, combined with high-fat diets may also lead to developing this condition.

Complications connected to Crohn’s disease

There are several main areas of the body and other related medical conditions that could be impacted as a result of having Crohn’s disease. Some of these conditions can be serious and life-threatening which is why it is so important to manage your health with this type of medical condition. Complications connected to Crohn’s disease include:

  • Bowel (e.g. scarring, narrowing, and intestinal wall thickness)
  • Ulcers (digestive system, mouth, anus, and genital area)
  • Fistulas
  • Anal Fissure (a small tear in anal lining)
  • Malnutrition
  • Medication side effects
  • Colon Cancer

Crohn’s disease statistics (UK)

According to recent statistics provided by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) research:

  • 157 of every 100,000 people in the UK have this condition
  • Approximately 115,000 have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in the UK
  • 33% of patients are diagnosed before age 21
  • Smoking and genetics are suggested to be the two main causes
  • 5 years after diagnosis 15-20% of people with Crohn’s will have a disability
  • Most people with Crohn’s disease will live normal active lives

*statistics from NICE 2014 report on inflammatory bowel disease (https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs81/documents/inflammatory-bowel-disease-briefing-paper2)

What Crohn’s disease awareness events are there?

There are several events nationally and internationally, dedicated to raising awareness about Crohn’s, Colitis, and other Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. These and other events have been developed by leading health charities to increase awareness about Crohn’s. Events can be to prevent risks, improve treatment or medication, and fund research.

Crohn’s disease events include:

  • Crohn’s disease awareness week is a national event in the UK run by the charity, Crohn’s & Colitis UK. The event usually takes place in the 1st week in December and is to raise awareness and funds for Crohn’s research
  • Crohn’s and Colitis awareness month is a global event in November to increase awareness for people living with the condition
  • World IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) Day is an event held in May across the globe with most national charities involved
  • IBD awareness month is held in the United States in December by leading charities to help raise awareness. There are approximately 3 million people in the US living with Crohn’s disease or Colitis which is 1.3% of the population

Crohn’s charities and support for Crohn’s disease (UK)

There are a number of major charities dedicated to helping people with Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases. These organisations provide vital guidance, help, and support for those living with this condition.

Our team of life insurance advisers is some of the leading UK life insurance experts for people with medical conditions like Crohn’s disease. Over the past 20 years, we have helped thousands of people with Crohn’s disease and other medical conditions to get the cover they need to protect their families, homes, and business. We offer FREE advice on a wide range of different types of insurance products and services.

We’re passionate about what we do to help our customers to make sure that they get the best cover and help them to save money. Our mission is to make sure that everyone is treated fairly regardless of their health or lifestyle. Check out our incredible Feefo customer reviews, see for yourself what our customers think about what we do.

For more information about getting life insurance, critical illness cover, or income protection with Crohn’s disease then you can give our team of experts a call on 0800 009 6559

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Daniel Sharpe-Szunko