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What is Crohn's Disease?

An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in which chronic inflammation causes damage to the gastrointestinal tract, typically the small intestine and/or the colon. There is no medical or surgical cure for Crohn's disease at the present time.

Types of Crohn's

  • Ileitis (inflammation of the last part of the small intestine, the ileum)
  • Colitis (inflammation of the colon)
  • Ileocolitis (inflammation of both the ileum and the colon)
  • Perianal disease (abscesses and fistulas near the anus)
  • Less common forms are Crohn's disease of the upper gastrointestinal tract (stomach and duodenum) and the jejunum (middle part of the small intestine)
  • The disease may be associated with inflammation in other organs, such as the eyes, skin, joints, and liver

Symptoms

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abscesses (boils) near the anus
  • Mouth sores
  • Joint pains

Causes

Crohn's disease is a complex disease with many interacting causes:

  • Genetics – inherited genes that increase the risk of Crohn's disease
  • Environmental triggers – cigarette smoking, intestinal infections, diet, stress and use of certain medications
  • Abnormal immune system – glitches in the body's immune system that make it react too strongly to environmental triggers

Making the Diagnosis

  • Blood tests
  • Stool tests
  • Colonoscopy and upper endoscopy with biopsies
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Capsule endoscopy