What is it?

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, including the mouth, small intestine, large intestine (the colon), and the rectum. The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, but genetic and environmental factors are involved. The understood mechanism includes the overactivation of the immune system. The immune system "attacks" the gastrointestinal tract, causing persistent inflammation and damage. Crohn’s disease increases the risk of small intestinal cancer and colon cancer; hence, early cancer testing is particularly important in these patients. Additional complications of Crohn’s disease include intestinal obstruction, bleeding, infections, and scarring.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Regional Enteritis of Small Intestine
- Crohns disease of small intestine
- Terminal ileitis
- Regional Enteritis of Large Intestine
- Crohns disease of colon
- Regional Enteritis of Small and Large Intestines
- Crohns disease of small intestine and colon

Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease may include:
- Persistent diarrhea.
- Abdominal Pain.
- Bloody stool or rectal bleeding.
- Rectal pain.
- Weight loss.
- Chronic Fatigue.
- Fever.
- Mouth sores (ulcers).
- Joints swelling and joints pain.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made by questioning and investigating the medical history and physical examination to provide additional information and exclude other diseases. Further tests include:
- Stool sampling test.
- Endoscopy – a procedure that allows looking at the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine and taking a biopsy, using a special camera inserted through the mouth.
- Colonoscopy – a procedure that allows looking at the rectum, large intestine (colon), and small intestine and taking a biopsy, using a special camera inserted through the rectum.
- CT or MRI scans.
- Blood testing.

Treatment

Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition. Treatment’s primary goal is to reduce the inflammation and thus ease the symptoms. Treatment includes medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, antibiotics, and pain relievers. Most of the patients with Crohn’s disease will require surgery, in which the damaged parts of the intestine will be removed. Surgery improves symptoms significantly in many patients, but it doesn’t cure the disease. Some dietary changes can ease symptoms in patients with Crohn’s disease, and a meeting with a dietitian may be appropriate.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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