Understanding Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by inflammationImmune response to tissue injury that causes redness, swelling, and pain. of the digestive, or gastrointestinal (GI) tractCollectively referring to the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, and anus.. In fact, Crohn’s can affect any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, but it is more commonly found at the end of the small intestineLong, tube-like organ in the abdomen that completes the process of digestion. It consists of the small and large intestines. Also called the bowel. (the ileum) where it joins the beginning of the large intestine (or colon). It can also affect:




Crohn’s disease vs. ulcerative colitis

Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC) are inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), but there are some key differences.

Crohn’s disease

  • Inflammation may develop anywhere in the GI tract from the mouth to the anus
  • Most commonly occurs at the end of the small intestine
  • May appear in patches
  • May extend through entire thickness of bowel wall
  • About 67% of people in remission will have at least 1 relapse over the next 5 years

Ulcerative colitis

  • Limited to the large intestine (colon and rectum)
  • Occurs in the rectum and colon, involving a part or the entire colon
  • Appears in a continuous pattern
  • Inflammation occurs in innermost lining of the intestine
  • About 30% of people in remission will experience a relapse in the next year

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is not irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

It’s important not to confuse an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a disorder that affects the muscle contractions of the bowel and is not characterized by intestinal inflammation, nor is it a chronic disease.

What is Crohn’s disease?

Learn the role of the immune system and who is likely to develop Crohn’s.

Who gets Crohn’s disease?

Up to
20% of people with Crohn’s have a blood relative who has IBD of people with Crohn’s have a blood relative who has IBD
Crohn’s disease affects men and women equally Affects men and women equally
700,000 people in the United States are affected by Crohn’s disease
Can occur at any time, but most often starts between ages
Crohn’s disease symptoms Symptoms range from mild to severe

For a one-page overview of Crohn’s disease facts for yourself or to share with others, download Crohn’s Disease 101, A Basic Guide.

And learn about how Crohn's appears to be a result of an interaction of factors.

What is it like to live with Crohn’s disease?

Discover which Crohn’s symptoms occur at early onset and at later stages of the disease.

Inflammation plays a role in your Crohn’s disease symptoms

When you're experiencing a Crohn's flare-up, your gastrointestinal (GI) tract may be inflamed. The damaging inflammation of Crohn’s may cause abdominal pain, frequent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fatigue, weight loss, and other symptoms that vary from mild to severe.

Learn about Crohn’s symptoms

What are the causes of Crohn’s disease?

Although the exact causes are unknown, researchers believe Crohn’s disease is caused by a combination of factors involving genetics, the environment, and an overactive immune system. It is not caused by something you ate or your diet.

Read about Crohn’s causes

How do you get diagnosed with Crohn’s disease?

If you have symptoms that could indicate Crohn’s, you will likely undergo a few different tests and procedures to get a diagnosis, as there is no one test that can definitively diagnose Crohn’s disease. To get a diagnosis, it is important to find a doctor, such as a gastroenterologist or another physician who specializes in Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s diagnosis and testing

There are many different treatments for Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s is a chronicContinuing or occurring again and again for a long time., life-long disease that requires constant treatment. Even though there is no cure for Crohn’s, there are many different medications available to treat it. Categories of drugs for Crohn's treatment include antibiotics, aminosalicylates (5-ASAs), corticosteroids, immune modifiers (immunomodulators) and biologic therapies (biologics). There are times when surgery may also be necessary for some patients.

Crohn’s treatment options

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