Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes swelling of the tissues (inflammation) in your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.
Inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people, it can involve any part of GI tract. This inflammation often spreads into the deeper layers of the bowel.
Crohn’s disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications.
There’s no known cure for Crohn’s disease, but therapies can greatly reduce its signs and symptoms and even bring about long-term remission and healing of inflammation. With treatment, many people with Crohn’s disease are able to function well.
In Crohn’s disease, any part of your small or large intestine can be involved. It may involve multiple segments, or it may be continuous. In some people, the disease is only in the colon, which is part of the large intestine.
Signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease can range from mild to severe. They usually develop gradually, but sometimes will come on suddenly, without warning. You may also have periods of time when you have no signs or symptoms (remission).
When the disease is active, symptoms typically include:
People with severe Crohn’s disease may also experience symptoms outside of the intestinal tract, including:
Crohn’s disease may lead to one or more of the following complications:
Doctors will diagnose Crohn’s disease only after ruling out other possible causes for your signs and symptoms. There is no single test to diagnose Crohn’s disease.
Your doctor will likely use a combination of tests to help confirm a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, including:
There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease, and there is no single treatment that works for everyone. One goal of medical treatment is to reduce the inflammation that triggers your signs and symptoms. Another goal is to improve long-term prognosis by limiting complications. In the best cases, this may lead not only to symptom relief but also to long-term remission.