Crohn's Disease

Crohn's is a chronic bowel condition that causes inflammation in the intestinal tract, and may cause symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus. 

The cause of Crohn's disease is currently not known. Having a family member with an inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) may increase your risk. 

Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Mouth sores
  • Sores, abscesses in the anal area


Tests to diagnose your condition may include:

  • Blood and/or stool tests
  • X-ray scans (Barium X-rays, CT or MRI scans)
  • Endoscopy procedures that could include:  
    • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
    • Colonoscopy
    • Upper endoscopy
    • Capsule endoscopy 

Crohn's Disease Treatment

Dietary Changes

No diet has been proven to reduce inflammation in patients with Crohn’s disease. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid foods that trigger symptoms. As each person may have different triggers, consulting with a dietitian may help. 


Many types of medicines treat Crohn's disease, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines 
  • Immunomodulators
  • Biologic medications


Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the diseased part of your intestine if:

  • Medication fails to improve the disease
  • You have an obstruction or fistula in your intestine

Even after surgery, you will be at high risk for the disease.

Untreated Crohn's disease may lead to:

  • Fistulas — Abnormal connections between the intestine and other organs or tissues, such as the bladder, vagina or skin
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Arthritis
  • Eye inflammation
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney stones
  • Gallstones
  • Osteoporosis



Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.