Crohn’s Disease (CD) is a chronic condition characterized by patchy areas of inflammation and ulcers (open sores) along the innermost layer of the digestive tract. Such lesions can develop anywhere from the mouth to anus, but the majority of cases involve the small intestine or the first part of the large intestine. Between these patches of inflammation and ulceration there remain stretches of normal, healthy tissue.
CD is closely related to a similar condition known as Ulcerative Colitis (UC). Both CD and Ulcerative Colitis are considered inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). CD affects between 2 and 7 out of 100,000 people and researchers believe that these numbers are growing. CD develops mostly between the ages of 15 and 40, although children and older adults may also develop the condition. People of Jewish heritage are up to six times more likely to develop Crohn’s Disease than are people in the general population. Although medication and strict diets can reduce the inflammation of Crohn’s Disease, most people with the condition will require surgery to remove part of the digestive tract at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, however, surgery does not completely cure or eradicate the disease.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common signs and symptoms of Crohn’s Disease are diarrhea and abdominal pain. The symptoms can range from mild to severe.
• Diarrhea (with or without blood)
• Abdominal pain and bloating
• Poor appetite
• Weight loss
• Nausea and vomiting
• Floating stools (which is caused by poor digestion of fat)
People with Crohn’s Disease are at increased risk for malnutrition. CD can also be associated with many other medical problems including arthritis, osteoporosis, eye infections, blood clots, liver disease, and skin rashes