- What Is It?
- Who Can Get It?
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes inflammation in the gut (the digestive tract) and belongs to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It can affect any part of the digestive tract that runs from the mouth to anus, but it generally affects the small intestine and initial part of the large intestine.
How serious is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease in and of itself is not usually life-threatening, although it can cause serious or fatal complications, which include the following:
- Bowel obstruction
- Fistulas (abnormal passages between a hollow or tubular organ and the body surface or between two hollow or tubular organs)
- Abscesses (pus-filled pocket of infection)
- Anal fissures (small tears in the anus)
- Ulcers or open sores in the mouth, intestine, or anus
- Inflammation around the joints, eyes, or skin
Appropriate treatment can augment the possibility of a good recovery.
What causes Crohn’s disease?
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown; however, an autoimmune reaction can incite Crohn’s disease. In an autoimmune reaction, the immune system may attack its healthy cells to cause inflammation of the tissues within the digestive tract.
Heredity can also play an important role in causing Crohn’s disease.
Stress and eating certain foods do not cause Crohn's disease; however, they can worsen the symptoms.
Who can get Crohn’s disease?
People associated with the following certain factors are at a high risk of Crohn’s disease:
What are the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
The signs and symptoms vary from individual to individual. In patients with Crohn’s disease, there are times when symptoms worsen (flares) and times when the individual recuperates from the symptoms (remission). The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include the following:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Persistent diarrhea
- Urgent desire to defecate
- The feeling of incomplete bowel emptying
- Weight loss
- Other less common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are as follows:
- Rectal bleeding
- Eye redness or pain
- Joint pain or soreness
- Nausea or loss of appetite
- Red, tender bumps under the skin
- Night sweats
- Rectal pain
What procedures and tests diagnose Crohn's disease?
There are no specific tests or procedures to diagnose Crohn’s disease. The physician evaluates the symptoms and uses information from diagnostic testing to exclude other potential causes.
What are the treatments for Crohn’s disease?
Various treatment options help to control the disease and help patients lead a full and rewarding life. Treatment options include
Medications suppress inflammation by reducing the activity of the immune system. They also help in subsiding the symptoms or complications. Mostly antidiarrheals, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or antibiotics are used.
Bowel rest involves restricting eating any food by mouth.
Surgery is useful in treating complications and reducing symptoms when other treatments are not useful.
Incorporating the following diet changes will help in reducing symptoms:
- Your Child Is Sick. Do You Call Your Doctor or Head to the ER?
- Mental Health Care Shortage Could Play Role in U.S. Youth Suicides
- Shopping Black Friday for TVs, Furniture? Don't Forget the Tip-Over Kit
- Keeping Thanksgiving Day Kitchens Safe for the Whole Family
- All the Flavor, Better Health: Holiday Dinner Ingredient Swaps That Work
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top How Serious Is Crohn’s Disease Related Articles
What Causes Abdominal Pain?Abdominal pain can have many causes that range from mild to severe. Some of these causes include bloating, gas, colitis, endometriosis, food poisoning, GERD, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ovarian cysts, abdominal adhesions, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and cancers. Signs and symptoms of the more serious causes include dehydration, bloody or black tarry stools, severe abdominal pain, pain with no urination or painful urination. Treatment for abdominal pain depends upon the cause.
What's Causing Your Abdominal Pain?In general, abdominal pain, which may be in the lower left or right of your abdomen, is a symptom of many possible conditions including appendicitis, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and others. It may accompany constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms. Find out the potential causes of pain in the abdomen and learn when you should see a doctor.
Anal FissureAn anal fissure is a small tear or cut in the skin lining of the anus. Pain and/or rectal bleeding during bowel movements are common symptoms of anal fissures. Treatment includes increasing liquid intake, using stool softeners, prescription medications, and surgery.
Crohn's Disease QuizWhat causes Crohn's disease? What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease? How is Crohn's treated? Take this quiz to get the facts about Crohn's.
Crohn's Disease: Symptoms, Causes, DietWhat is Crohn's disease? Get more information on this digestive disorder and how Crohn's can affect your diet. Learn more about tests to diagnose Crohn's disease, as well as treatments for Crohn's.
Crohn's Disease vs. Ulcerative Colitis (UC)Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are diseases that cause inflammation of part of or the entire digestive tract (GI). Crohn's affects the entire GI tract (from the mouth to the anus), while ulcerative colitis or ulcerative colitis only affects the large and small intestine and ilium. Researchers do not know the exact cause of either disease. About 20% of people with Crohn's disease also have a family member with the disease. Researchers believe that certain factors may play a role in causing UC. Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are a type of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD.
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis both have similar symptoms and signs, for example, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, episodic and/or persistent diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and cramping, rectal bleeding, bloody stools, joint pain and soreness, eye redness, or pain. Symptoms unique to Crohn’s disease include anemia and skin changes. Symptoms of unique to ulcerative colitis include, certain rashes, an urgency to defecate (have a bowel movement). Doctors diagnose both diseases with similar tests and procedures. While there is no cure for either disease, doctors and other health care professionals can help you treat disease flares, and manage your Crohn's or ulcerative colitis with medication, diet, nutritional supplements, and/or surgery.
Visual Guide to Stomach UlcersLearn about the causes and symptoms of stomach ulcers, and find out which kinds of treatment can help.
IBS-D (Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Diarrhea)
IBS-D or irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea refers to IBS with diarrhea. Symptoms of IBS-D include
- intestinal gas (flatulence),
- loose stools,
- frequent stools,
- abdominal pain,
- diarrhea, and
New non-FDA approved IBS tests may help diagnose IBS and IBS-D. Treatment of IBS-D is geared to toward managing symptoms with diet, medication, and lifestyle changes.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a GI (gastrointestinal) disorder with signs and symptoms that include abdominal pain, bloating, increased gas (flatulence), abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and food intolerance.Two new tests are now available that may help diagnose irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea and constipation (IBS-M) irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D), and irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C). Treatment for IBS includes diet changes, medications, and other lifestyle changes to manage symptoms.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) QuizWhat are symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Take this quiz and get quick facts on causes and treatment options for this common and uncomfortable digestive disorder.
What Is the Life Expectancy of Someone with Crohn's Disease?Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the gut (digestive tract).Crohn’s disease belongs to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). With appropriate management, patients with Crohn’s disease may expect a normal life expectancy and a good quality of life.
Low FODMAP Diet for IBS
FODMAPs are foods that contain sugar alcohols and short chain carbohydrates. The gut can't digest them very well. There are "low" FODMAP foods and "high" FODMAP foods. Foods high in FODMAPs lay in the gut and ferment, which causes symptoms of:
- Excessive gas
- Abdominal pain
Some people with digestive diseases and disorders, for example, IBS, microscopic colitis, IBD (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), and other functional bowel disorders often are placed on a low FODMAP diet to decrease the amount of high FODMAPs foods in the diet, which create uncomfortable symptoms.
Ulcerative Colitis QuizWhat is ulcerative colitis and what risks are associated with suffering over the long term? Take this Ulcerative Colitis Quiz to learn causes, symptoms, and treatments for this painful digestive disorder.
Ulcerative Colitis Diet Plan
An ulcerative colitis diet plan can help a person with the disease avoid foods and drinks that trigger flares. There also are foods that can soothe ulcerative colitis symptoms during a flare. Types of ulcerative colitis plans include
- a high-calorie diet,
- a lactose-free diet,
- a low-fat diet,
- a low-fiber diet (low-residue diet), or
- a low-salt diet.
Self-management of ulcerative colitis using healthy lifestyle habits and a nutrient rich diet can be effective in management of the disease. Learn what foods to avoid that aggravate, and what foods help symptoms of the disease and increase bowel inflammation.
Ulcerative ColitisUlcerative Colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease and is slightly different than Crohn's disease. Learn the causes, symptoms, diet, and treatment options associated with ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative Colitis SurgeryUlcerative colitis surgery is performed on approximately 25% to 40% of people with the disease. There are various types of ulcerative colitis. Complications of the surgery include pouch failure, intestinal blockage from adhesions, inflammation of the pouch, and more watery and frequent bowel movements.
Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms and TreatmentVitamin D deficiency has been linked with rickets, cancer, cardiovascular disease, severe asthma in children and cognitive impairment in older adults. Causes include not ingesting enough of the vitamin over time, having limited exposure to sunlight, having dark skin, and obesity. Symptoms include bone pain and muscle weakness. Treatment for vitamin D deficiency involves obtaining more vitamin D through supplements, diet, or exposure to sunlight.