Information for Patients
Crohn's disease causes inflammation of the digestive system. It is one of a group of diseases called inflammatory bowel disease. Crohn's can affect any area from the mouth to the anus. It often affects the lower part of the small intestine called the ileum.
The cause of Crohn's disease is unknown. It may be due to an abnormal reaction by the body's immune system. It also seems to run in some families. It most commonly starts between the ages of 13 and 30.
The most common symptoms are pain in the abdomen and diarrhea. Other symptoms include
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Weight loss
Your doctor will diagnose Crohn's disease with a physical exam, lab tests, imaging tests, and a colonoscopy.
Crohn's can cause complications, such as intestinal blockages, ulcers in the intestine, and problems getting enough nutrients. People with Crohn's can also have joint pain and skin problems. Children with the disease may have growth problems.
There is no cure for Crohn's. Treatment can help control symptoms, and may include medicines, nutrition supplements, and/or surgery. Some people have long periods of remission, when they are free of symptoms.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
A fistula is an abnormal connection between two parts inside of the body. Fistulas may develop between different organs, such as between the esophagus and the windpipe or the bowel and the vagina. They can also develop between two blood vessels, such as between an artery and a vein or between two arteries.
Some people are born with a fistula. Other common causes of fistulas include
- Complications from surgery
- Diseases, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
Treatment depends on the cause of the fistula, where it is, and how bad it is. Some fistulas will close on their own. In some cases, you may need antibiotics and/or surgery.
Crohn disease Crohn disease is a complex, long-lasting (chronic) disorder that primarily affects the digestive system. This condition involves an abnormal immune response that causes excess inflammation. It most often affects the intestinal walls, particularly in the lower part of the small intestine (the ileum) and portions of the large intestine (the colon). However, inflammation can occur in any part of the digestive system, from the mouth to the anus. The inflamed tissues become thick and swollen, and the inner surfaces of the digestive system may develop open sores (ulcers).Crohn disease most commonly appears in a person's late teens or twenties, although the disease can begin at any age. Signs and symptoms tend to flare up multiple times throughout life. The most common features of this condition are persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fever. Some people with Crohn disease have blood in the stool from inflamed tissues in the intestine; over time, chronic bleeding can lead to a low number of red blood cells (anemia). In some cases, Crohn disease can also cause inflammation affecting the joints, eyes, or skin.Intestinal blockage is a common complication of Crohn disease. Blockages are caused by swelling or a buildup of scar tissue in the intestinal walls. Some affected individuals also develop fistulae, which are abnormal connections between the intestine and other tissues. Fistulae occur when ulcers break through the intestinal wall and passages form between loops of the intestine or between the intestine and nearby structures (such as the bladder, vagina, or skin).Crohn disease is one common form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Another type of IBD, ulcerative colitis, also causes chronic inflammation of the intestinal lining. Unlike Crohn disease, which can affect any part of the digestive system, ulcerative colitis typically causes inflammation only in the colon.