Crohn's disease occurs when there is redness and swelling (inflammation) and sores along your digestive tract. It is part of a group of diseases known as inflammatory bowel disease or IBD.
Crohn’s disease is a long-term, chronic illness that may come and go at different times in your life. In most cases, it affects the small intestine, most often the lower part called the ileum. In some cases it affects both the small and large intestines.
Sometimes the inflammation may be along your whole digestive tract. This includes your mouth, your food pipe (esophagus), your stomach, the first part of your small intestine or duodenum, your appendix, and your anus.
Experts don’t know what causes Crohn's disease. It may be that a virus or a bacteria affects the body's infection-fighting system (immune system). The immune system may create an abnormal inflammation reaction in the intestinal wall that does not stop.
Many people with Crohn’s disease have abnormal immune systems. But experts don’t know if immune problems cause the disease. They also don’t know if Crohn’s disease may cause immune problems. Stress does not seem to cause Crohn's disease.
Crohn's disease may happen at any age. It most often affects people ages 15 to 35 years old. It can also happen in children or older people. It affects men and women equally.
You may be more at risk for Crohn’s disease if you:
Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:
You may have no symptoms for a long time, even years. That is called being in remission. There is no way to know when remission may occur or when your symptoms will return.
The symptoms of Crohn's disease may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider to be sure.
You may be checked for signs of Crohn's disease if you have had long-term or chronic:
Your healthcare provider will look at your past health and give you a physical exam.
Other tests for Crohn's disease may include the following:
Your healthcare provider will create a care plan for you based on:
There is no cure for Crohn's disease. But there are some things that can help to control it. Treatment has 3 goals:
Treatment may include:
Surgery may help to reduce long-term or chronic symptoms that don’t get better with therapy. Surgery may also fix some problems such as a blocked intestine, a hole or perforation, an abscess, or bleeding.
Types of surgery may include:Draining abscesses in or near fistulas. An abscess is a collection of pus or infection. Treatment includes antibiotics and injectables such as biologics, but sometimes surgery is needed.
Crohn’s disease may cause other health problems. These may include:
Common symptoms of malabsorption include the following:
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