Condition: Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract.

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What is Crohn's disease?

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation in parts of the digestive system. The small intestine is the area most commonly affected, but any area of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus can be affected by Crohn’s.

Crohn’s disease can affect anyone of any age, but symptoms typically begin to appear early in life, from childhood to early 30s.

What causes Crohn's disease?

There’s currently no known cause of Crohn's disease, but certain factors may play a role in increasing risk:

  • Genetics – Crohn’s disease is more common in people with a family history of the disease
  • An overactive immune response –  A virus or bacterium may trigger the body to attack the cells in the digestive system
  • Smoking – Smoking may double the risk of developing Crohn’s disease

What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease?

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can vary from person to person as they depend on the area of the gastrointestinal area affected. The more general symptom of Crohn’s disease are:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Blood in stools
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Mouth ulcers

Crohn’s disease is diagnosed by assessing medical history and symptoms and examining the abdomen. There’s no single test for Crohn’s disease but a stool study and blood test may be done to look for inflammation and infection. An endoscopy, colonoscopy or biopsy can be performed and MRI or CT imaging may be used to check for signs of Crohn’s disease and confirm the diagnosis.

What are the treatment options for Crohn's disease?

There’s currently no cure for Crohn’s disease but symptoms can be managed with various treatments:

  • Steroid medicines – Corticosteroids may help to reduce inflammation in the digestive system
  • Immunosuppressants – If steroids aren’t effective, immunosuppressants can help to suppress an overactive immune system to help reduce symptoms
  • Biological medicines –  If other medications are ineffective, stronger medicines called biologics can help stop symptoms from coming back
  • Surgery – Surgery can be done when medications are no longer effective to reduce symptoms and stops them from coming back for a period of time. Surgery is also performed to correct complications such as intestinal perforations, blockages or bleeding

Crohn’s Disease Specialists