What is Crohn’s disease and what causes it? (Definition)
Crohn’s disease is a chronic disease or condition which causes inflammation and irritation in your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Crohn’s disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications. Doctors aren’t sure what causes Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease belongs to a group of conditions known as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) which also include ulcerative colitis and microscopic colitis.
Crohn’s is a chronic disease, meaning that patients will often experience periods of flare up, followed by periods of remission that can last for weeks or years. Crohn’s disease most often begins gradually and can become worse over time. Most commonly, Crohn’s affects your small intestine and the beginning of your large intestine. However, the disease can affect any part of your digestive tract, from your mouth to your anus.
According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, Crohn’s disease may affect as many as 780,000 Americans. Men and Women are equally likely to be affected, and while the disease can occur at any age, Crohn’s is more prevalent among adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 35.
While there’s no known cure for Crohn’s disease, therapies can greatly reduce its signs and symptoms and even bring about long-term remission. Treatment for Crohn’s and other IBD varieties can include the use of medication, alterations in diet and nutrition, and sometimes surgical procedures to repair or remove affected portions of your GI tract.
With treatment, many people with Crohn’s disease are able to function well.
Crohn’s Disease Symptoms
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GI tract. While symptoms vary from patient to patient, some of the most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are diarrhea, cramping and pain in your abdomen, and weight loss. Other symptoms of Crohn’s disease may include rectal bleeding, the urgent need to move bowels, having a sensation of incomplete evacuation, fatigue, fever, mouth sores, and constipation which can lead to bowel obstruction. These symptoms can be mild to severe and usually develop gradually but can come on suddenly without warning.
In more severe cases, Crohn’s disease can lead to tears in the lining of the anus, which could result in pain and bleeding, particularly during bowel movements. Inflammation may also cause a fistula to develop. A fistula is a tunnel that leads from one loop of intestine to another, or that connects the intestine to the bladder, vagina, or skin. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
People suffering from Crohn’s often experience loss of appetite and may lose weight as a result. Among younger children, Crohn’s may delay growth and development.
Proper nutrition can help manage Crohn’s disease. Depending on your symptoms or medicines, your doctor may recommend a specific diet. If you are experiencing any symptoms of Crohn’s disease or think you may be at risk of developing Crohn’s disease, see your doctor.
For more information regarding treatment for Crohn’s disease, please visit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America website.
See below for updated news and information regarding Crohn’s disease including new medical research, treatment options and advancements.
Latest Crohn's Disease News
New Crohn’s Disease Research Findings: Crohn’s disease risk and prognosis determined by different genes, study finds