What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition. It is sometimes associated with joint inflammation.

The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Crohn’s disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications.

Symptoms

The most common areas affected by Crohn’s disease are the last part of the small intestine and the colon. Signs and symptoms 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, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever and fatigue
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Blood in your stool.
  • Mouth sores. (similar to canker sores)
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss.
  • Perianal disease. (pain or drainage near or around the anus due to inflammation).

People with severe Crohn’s disease may also experience:

  • Inflammation of skin, eyes and joints
  • Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts
  • Delayed growth or sexual development, in children

Treatment Options

While there’s no known cure for Crohn’s disease, therapies can greatly reduce its signs and symptoms and even bring about long-term remission. With treatment, many people with Crohn’s disease are able to function well.

Treatment for Crohn’s disease usually involves drug therapy or, in certain cases, surgery. There is no one treatment that works for everyone. Doctors use one of two approaches to treatment — either “step-up,” which starts with milder drugs first, or “top-down,” which gives people stronger drugs earlier in the treatment process.

We encourage you visit Crohn’s Disease Foundation of America to become more knowledgeable about your condition.  The knowledge of your disorder helps you in understanding the disorder and its treatment.  Each person is different so what applies to one patient may not apply to another. Reading and understanding about your disorder will help you be better prepared to discuss the disorder with your physician and understand the options that are available to help you. These links are not connected to Albuquerque Center for Rheumatology and are offered for your information only.