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Crohns Disease / Irritable Bowel
Basic Information

Crohns Disease / Irritable Bowel

What is Crohn's disease?

Crohn's disease is a chronic, or long lasting, disease that causes inflammation—irritation or swelling—in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Most commonly, Crohn's affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine. However, the disease can affect any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus.

Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the GI tract, called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis and microscopic colitis are the other common IBDs.

Crohn's disease most often begins gradually and can become worse over time. Most people have periods of remission—times when symptoms disappear—that can last for weeks or years.

Some people with Crohn's disease receive care from a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases.

What is the gastrointestinal tract?

The GI tract is a series o...

 

 
Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What is Crohn's Disease?

  • Crohn's disease is a chronic, or long lasting, disease that causes inflammation—irritation or swelling—in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
  • Most commonly, Crohn's affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine.
  • However, the disease can affect any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus.
  • Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the GI tract, called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Crohn's disease most often begins gradually and can become worse over time. Most people have periods of remission—times when symptoms disappear—that can last for weeks or years.
  • Some people with Crohn's disease receive care from a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases.
  • The exact cause of Crohn's disease is unknown. Researchers believe the following factors may play a role in causing Crohn's disease: autoimmune reaction, genes and environment.
  • Crohn's disease can occur in people of any age. However, it is more likely to develop in people: between the ages of 20 and 29; who have a family member, most often a sibling or parent, with IBD; who smoke cigarettes.

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What are the symptoms of Crohn's Disease and how is it diagnosed?

  • The most common signs and symptoms of Crohn's disease are diarrhea, abdominal cramping and pain, and weight loss.
  • Other general signs and symptoms include feeling tired, nausea or loss of appetite, fever, and anemia — a condition in which the body has fewer red blood cells than normal.
  • Signs and symptoms of inflammation outside of the intestines include joint pain or soreness, eye irritation, and skin changes that involve red, tender bumps under the skin.
  • A health care provider diagnoses Crohn's disease with the following: medical and family history, physical exam, lab tests, upper GI series, computerized tomography (CT) scan, and intestinal endoscopy.
  • The health care provider may perform a series of medical tests to rule out other bowel diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease, that cause symptoms similar to those of Crohn's disease.

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How is Crohn's Disease treated?

  • A health care provider treats Crohn's disease with medications, bowel rest or surgery.
  • Which treatment a person needs depends on the severity of the disease and symptoms.
  • Each person experiences Crohn's disease differently, so health care providers adjust treatments to improve the person's symptoms and induce, or bring about, remission.
  • While no medication cures Crohn's disease, many can reduce symptoms.
  • Sometimes Crohn's disease symptoms are severe and a person may need to rest his or her bowel for a few days to several weeks. Bowel rest involves drinking only clear liquids or having no oral intake. To provide the patient with nutrition, a health care provider will deliver IV nutrition through a special catheter, or tube, inserted into a vein in the patient's arm.
  • Even with medication treatments, up to 20 percent of people will need surgery to treat their Crohn's disease. Although surgery will not cure Crohn's disease, it can treat complications and improve symptoms.
  • Researchers have not found that eating, diet, and nutrition cause Crohn's disease symptoms. Good nutrition is important in the management of Crohn's disease, however. Dietary changes can help reduce symptoms.

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