Crohn’s Disease

What Is Crohn’s Disease

According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, about 700,000 Americans have Crohn’s disease. Since 1992, there has been a 74% rise in medical visits due to Crohn’s, and in 2004, the condition resulted in 57,000 hospitalizations.

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation to the lining of the digestive tract; though it is typically found in the intestines, Crohn’s inflammation can be found anywhere in the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus. Inflammation can cause scarring and permanent damage to the digestive tract, and often results in diarrhea, intense abdominal cramps, fever, and fatigue. Crohn’s disease symptoms may appear in flare-ups of varying intensity.

According to guidelines for Crohn’s disease management outlined by the Cleveland Clinic, the degrees of flare up severity are:

  • Mild to moderate– Individuals can tolerate oral intake without dehydration, high fever, abdominal pain, abdominal mass or obstruction.
  • Moderate to severe– Individuals are unresponsive to treatments for mild to moderate flare-ups and/or experience fevers, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, anemia, and abdominal pain without obstruction.
  • Severe or fulminate – Individuals experience persistent symptoms despite all treatment attempts or experience high fever, persistent vomiting, severe abdominal pain, severe weight loss/muscle loss, abdominal obstruction or abscesses (a collection of infected tissue and fluid within the gastrointestinal tract)

In addition to being categorized by degree of intensity, cases of Crohn’s diseases are categorized by location of inflammation and pattern of inflammation.

According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, there are 5 categorizations of Crohn’s disease based on inflammation location:

  • Ileocolitis, the most common form of Crohn’s, which affects the end of the small intestine (known as the ileum) and the colon (large intestine).
  • Ileitis, which affects only the ileum.
  • Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease,which affects the stomach and the duodenum (the beginning of the small intestine).
  • Jejunoileitis, which affects areas of the last two segments of the small intestine (the jejunum and ileum).
  • Crohn’s (granulomatous) colitis, which affects only the colon.

Crohn’s disease can also present itself in three patterns:

  • Inflammatory. This pattern is typical in early stages of the disease, and is characterized by inflammation of the intestinal wall.
  • Fibrostenotic. This pattern is seen later on in the disease, when continuous inflammation has caused extensive scarring of the gastrointestinal tract. If scar tissue is thick enough, temporary or permanent intestinal obstruction may occur.

Perforating/Fistulizing. This is the most severe pattern, occurring when excessive inflammation has caused a perforation (hole) in the wall of the gastrointestinal tract. The perforation allows for the leakage of waste into the body cavity, which may result in fistulae, unordinary tubes/tissue connection that the body forms to allow for the drainage of waste. Among the most common fistulae are entero-vesical fistulae, in which waste passes from the intestine to the bladder, entero-vaginal fistulae, in which waste passes from the intestine through the vagina, and entero-enteric fistulae, in which waste passes from one section of the intestine to another.

Changes in Crohn’s Disease Management Outlook

There have been tremendous advances in treatment options for Crohn’s disease, especially in the last 10 years and has opened up new successful approaches to management and treatment of this disease.  Since symptoms and manifestation of Crohn’s disease can vary significantly from person to person, with symptoms ranging from no symptoms at all to diarrhea, to bleeding and pain—treatment is very tailored to the individual.  Scientific advances have resulted in a much more promising, predictable, and nuanced condition management. Research has uncovered important genetic and environmental causes of this disease—and the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has approved four additional therapies that have had a big impact on the treatment of Crohn’s. Outcomes for treatment have improved greatly, especially for those that suffer from more considerable inflammation and bowel involvement, or possible malnutrition, which can lead to delayed growth and development. Ability to monitor progress and efficacy of therapeutic choices has allowed us to enter a new era of positive outcomes and disease control.

Symptom managements was the old approach to Crohn’s treatment—this has changed to a goal of achieving both disease control and healing of the bowel. Those living with Crohn’s can now expect to live with very good condition control, allowing for them to plan their lives as they otherwise would, with normal life expectancy,

What Causes Crohn’s Disease

Risk Factors For Crohn’s Disease

Diagnosing Crohn’s Disease

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease


Living With Crohn’s Disease



Medication And Treatment

Complementary and Alternative Treatment

Care Guide

When To Contact A Doctor

Questions For A Doctor