Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Crohn's Disease

Crohn's Disease

Illustration of the anatomy of the digestive system, adult
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What is Crohn's disease?

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that is a chronic condition that may recur at various times over a lifetime. It usually involves the small intestine, most often the lower part called the ileum. However, in some cases, both the small and large intestine are affected. Sometimes, inflammation may also affect the entire digestive tract, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, duodenum, appendix, or anus.

Crohn's disease affects males and females equally. It appears to run in some families, with about 20 percent of people with Crohn's disease having a blood relative with some form of inflammatory bowel disease.

What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease?

The following are the most common symptoms of Crohn's disease. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

Inflammatory bowel diseases

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) include a group of chronic disorders that cause inflammation or ulceration in the small and large intestines. Most often IBD is classified as:

Ulcerative colitis, which causes ulceration and inflammation of the inner lining of the colon and rectum.

Crohn's disease, an inflammation that extends into the deeper layers of the intestinal wall, and may also affect other parts of the digestive tract, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small intestine.

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease cause similar symptoms that often resemble other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The correct diagnosis may take some time.

Inflammatory bowel disease may also be referred to as colitis, enteritis, ileitis, and proctitis.

Some people have long periods of remission, sometimes for years, when they are free of symptoms. There is no way to predict when a remission may occur or when symptoms will return.

The symptoms of Crohn's disease may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

What causes Crohn's disease?

There are many theories regarding what causes Crohn's disease. One theory suggests that some agent, perhaps a virus or a bacterium, affects the body's immune system and triggers an inflammatory reaction in the intestinal wall. Although there is a lot of evidence that patients with this disease have abnormalities of the immune system, it is not known whether the immune problems are a cause or a result of the disease.

There is no evidence that Crohn's disease is caused by stress.

How is Crohn's disease diagnosed?

People who have experienced chronic abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, weight loss, and anemia may be examined for signs of Crohn's disease. In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for Crohn's disease may include the following:

Illustration demonstrating a colonoscopy
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What is the treatment for Crohn's disease?

Specific treatment for Crohn's disease will be determined by your doctor based on:

At this time there is no cure for Crohn's disease, however, several methods are helpful in controlling it. The usual goals of treatment are to:

Treatment may include:

Illustration of  bowel resection and colostomy
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Different types of ostomy are performed depending on how much and what part of the intestines are removed, and may include the following:

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Online Resources of Digestive Disorders


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