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Crohn's Disease Factors

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.


Crohn's Disease

Crohn’s disease (inflammatory bowel disease, IBD), a condition of the gastrointestinal tract, which was initially diagnosed in 1932. It causes abdominal pain, fatigue, severe diarrhea, malnutrition and weight loss. As it can infect various areas of the intestinal tract, it affects various people in different ways.

Life expectancy in the United States for women today is 86.6 years, but worldwide life expectancy is 73.5 years. Crohn's disease can certainly aid in the cause of death due to the malnutrition caused by the severe diarrhea.

The abdominal pain can be debilitating, and the disease can be life-threatening.

Types of Crohn's Disease

Different areas of the digestive tract may be affected by types of Crohn's disease.

Cleveland Clinic has published these types of Crohn’s disease including:

  • "Ileocolitis: Inflammation occurs in the small intestine and part of the large intestine, or colon. Ileocolitis is the most common type of Crohn’s disease.
  • Ileitis: Swelling and inflammation develop in the small intestine (ileum).
  • Gastroduodenal: Inflammation and irritation affect the stomach and the top of the small intestine (the duodenum).
  • Jejunoileitis: Patchy areas of inflammation develop in the upper half of the small intestine (called the jejunum)."
Cohen's Disease Compared to Ulcerative Colitis

Cohen's Disease Compared to Ulcerative Colitis

Crohn's Disease VS Ulcerative Colitis

Crohn’s disease is not the only inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBD). IBD includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

The symptoms of these two diseases are similar, but they affect different parts of the intestine. Crohn’s disease usually affects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon, but it may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. Ulcerative colitis is limited to the large intestine of the colon. These diseases actually cause inflammation to the lining of the digestive tract.

Crohn’s disease may also affect the thickness of the bowel wall, and it can skip over some areas of the colon leaving it normal, and an attack an area further away. This is not true of ulcerative colitis.

There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, although there are therapies that can greatly reduce the signs and symptoms and even bring about a long-term remission. However, this disease can also lead to life-threatening complications.


Symptoms may vary between patients, ranging from mild to severe, but the most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgent need to move bowels
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation
  • Constipation, which can lead to a bowel obstruction

There are also some general symptoms associated with IBS diseases, which include:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle

Some people who have severe Crohn’s disease also experience inflammation of their skin, eyes, joints, liver or bile ducts, and it can delay growth or sexual development in children.

Risk Factors or Causes

It is important to see your doctor if your symptoms change, such as abdominal pain, blood in your stool, ongoing bouts of diarrhea that do not respond to OTC medications, unexplained fever that lasts more than a day or two or unexplained weight loss.

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, although factors like heredity or a malfunctioning immune system can play a role in its development. While this disease can occur at any age it is most commonly diagnosed before age 30. It can affect any ethnic group, but people of Jewish dissent have a higher risk.

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Smoking cigarettes is a risk factor that you can control, so if you have a family history it would be wise to never smoke. Anti-inflammatory medications don't cause the disease, but they can lead to greater inflammation of the bowel, which makes the symptoms of Crohn’s disease worse.

There is a higher incidence of this disease in urban areas of industrial countries, which suggest diets high in fat may be at least a partial cause. Individuals who live in northern climates are also at a greater risk.

Possible Complications

The numerous complications can be quite serious and include:

  1. Inflammation that is confined to the bowel wall can lead to scarring and narrowing, or it may spread through the bowel wall causing a fistula.
  2. As Crohn’s disease affects the thickness of the intestinal wall the bowel may sicken and narrow at different points, which block the flow of digestive contents, so surgery is the only option.
  3. Open sore ulcers may occur anywhere in the digestive tract, including your mouth and anus, your intestines or other organs. In this case bile reaches areas that are necessary for absorption or fistulas may occur.
  4. It is possible that a fistula can extend completely through the intestinal wall and even occur between your intestines or between loops of bile into the bladder or vagina coming out to the scan causing continuous drainage. This is obviously a very serious complication and requires surgery.
  5. Anal fissures, which are a small tear in the tissue that lines the anus, can cause infections and are often associated with painful bowel movements.
  6. Malnutrition may occur due to the diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping that makes it difficult for a person to eat. The intestine may not absorb enough nutrients to keep the body nourished. Anemia is also common due to the low absorption of iron or vitamin B12.
  7. This disease also increases your risk of colon cancer. Colonoscopies should begin before the age of 50.
  8. Anemia, osteoporosis and gallbladder or liver disease are also possible problems.

Some of the medications commonly given to these patients may also cause problems, such as they are corticosteroids and anti-inflammatories.

Diagnosing Crohn's Disease

Generally doctors will attempt to rule out other possibilities from your symptoms before diagnosing Crohn’s disease. There is no specific test for this disease. Doctors use a combination of endoscopy with biopsies and radiological testing to help confirm the disease. Blood test will be checked for anemia and fecal occult blood test will be taken also.

Colonoscopies, flexible sigmoidoscopies and computerized tomography (CT scan) or a MRI are commonly used for diagnosis. The CT or MRI scan are useful to look at the entire colon for fistulas around the anal area. Capsule endoscopy is another test that uses a camera swallowed by the patient to take pictures, which are then transmitted to a computer you wear on your belt.

The main goal for treatment is to reduce the inflammation and improve the long-term prognosis, so complications can be limited. This same goal holds true for those with ulcerative colitis. Anti-inflammatory drugs are usually the first type of treatment tried, and corticosteroids, such as prednisone, help reduce inflammation anywhere in the body but they don't always work for people with Crohn’s disease.

Doctors are not for long term use of corticosteroids, but they are used to try to induce remission. There are some other types of immune suppressant medications that are sometimes called for if the symptoms are not responding to other medications.

Managing Cronhn's Disease

Ways to Help Yourself

Paying attention to your nutrition is important, and doctors recommend a low residue or low fiber diet to help reduce the risk of acquiring an intestinal blockage. Avoid dairy products as they can cause inflammation and try low-fat foods.

Eating four or five small meals each day instead of a large meal seems to help prevent problems, and it is a good idea to drink plenty of fluids daily, preferably water.

Approximately one half of the people with this disease require will require at least one surgery to remove portions of the digestive tract. Stress seems to make any disease worse, and it may trigger flareups. Mild exercise, biofeedback, using regular relaxation and breathing techniques may also help reduce your stress. Many people practice yoga. Probiotics may help, although medical testing has had mixed results.

Try to make a plan that works for you and gives you optimal health despite your disease.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2015 Pamela Oglesby


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 03, 2017:

I am sorry that you are so ill, and you have suffered the loss of a loved one. I wrote that article quite a while ago, and I will certainly review and correct any mistakes. There may be something new I can add as well. Thank you very much for your input. I wish you the best.

Amity Bronwen on January 25, 2017:

So sorry for your loss: I also lost a friend due to complications from Crohn's. She was an unusual case, at only 26. But this was years ago: I'm 53 & she'd be 50 now!

I have both Crohn's and UC, and in the interest of saving others with these forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) from having their symptoms minimized and condition confused with the less dangerous Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), I need to point out that you've accidentally merged the two names. There is no Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome.

I'm not being nitpicking: the distinction is very important. By applying the abbreviation IBS instead of IBD to our condition when in need of medical care, those of us with IBD risk getting far less necessary medical help when emergencies arise.

I hope that it might be possible for you to review and correct your otherwise beautiful article? Thank you.

My Maternal Grandmother passed due to similar circumstances to your friend, at about the same age.

I haven't been as cautious as I really should be. Sick abed with a Flare, I'm thinking how better to manage both forms of IBD that I have.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 13, 2015:

Rabadi, Thank you so much for your comments. am glad you found this hub useful.

TruthisReal from New York on October 12, 2015:

Incredible and valuable information. A great read!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 01, 2015:

This disease does make people miserable. Thanks for your comments.

Audrey Howitt from California on September 25, 2015:

This sounds like a really difficult condition to live with. I never knew about its severity before

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 19, 2015:

Sunshine, This is really a tough disease, and I pray the medical science will learn to do more for people with this disease. I appreciate your comments so much, and I am thankful for our friendship also.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on August 17, 2015:

My nephew was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at a young age. He is now in his 30's and has been through so much due to his condition, yet he is a very brave man. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend, her journey had you teaching others about this condition. Thank you for teaching us. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts for many years to Team Cap. You are a wonderful woman and I am thankful for your friendship.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 09, 2015:

Ictodd, I haven't been here as often as I should due to some health problems., but I am glad to ear from you.

Linda Todd from Charleston on June 08, 2015:

Hey Pamela, I haven't been here in awhile but wanted to tell you as always your hub is outstanding. You know your stuff. Look forward to meeting here and there again.


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 21, 2015:

Patricia, I hope your grandson won't have the disease.I will add him to my prayer list. Love the angels, and I will send some back to you.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 18, 2015:

So sad for your loss, Pamela. No words ever really seem to help but know you are thought of.

Crohn's is horrific. My best friend's husband has it and he suffers horribly with it.

My baby grandson is being analyzed to determine if he has presents in different ways in little ones.

We are hopeful that they can find out what is causing his pain ....and other effects of whatever it is.

Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 04, 2015:

I appreciate your comments so much and your tweet.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 04, 2015:

PegCole, That sounds like good news, t I hope you find out what is causing your proles. You might consider Gluten disease. Best of luck, and thank you for your comments.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 03, 2015:

I am sorry for your loss of a friend. I know one person with Crohns Diease. Your hub is really informative and well written. Thank you for sharing..Tweeted

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on April 03, 2015:

Your description of this disease was valuable and interesting. I'm glad I read this today as I've been a bit worried about this disease. Doesn't look like my symptoms match the description for Crohn's.

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. That age is really sounding younger all the time. My deepest condolences on your loss.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 03, 2015:

Jackie, That is a very nice way of looking at loss. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 03, 2015:

Martie, After all this time you would think there would be a cure, but it is like so many auto=immune diseases where there is only a treatment. Thanks for your comments.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on April 02, 2015:

Thank you Pamela for sharing your lose and the important information it brought to us. May your happy thoughts of your friend outweigh your sorrow.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on April 02, 2015:

Thanks for this well-explained information about Crohns disease, Pamela. This looks like a very uncomfortable and painful disease. So sad that they haven't yet discovered a cure.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 02, 2015:

Alicia, Thank you so much for your comments. I sure agree that this is a horrible disease.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 02, 2015:

MsDora, Thank you so much for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 02, 2015:

Anginwu, It is ideal when a person can manage with diet and medicatons, but some people end up on very strong medications. Thank you for your comments.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 01, 2015:

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend, Pamela. Thanks for sharing the information about this horrible disease.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 01, 2015:

Very good information and helpful tips on this disease. Sorry about the loss of your friend; please find comfort in the memory of the good times you shared.

anglnwu on April 01, 2015:

Great information. One of my friends has Crohn's disease and she's managing well with medication and watching her diet. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2015:

BPOP, It is a very tough disease for most people. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2015:

RTalloni, It is difficult, and I know how sick she was at times, yet she seemed to be able to keep this wonderful attitude. I appreciate your comments.

breakfastpop on April 01, 2015:

Your hub is interesting and very informative. I know people who suffer from Crohn's and Colitis and they make the best of a not so great situation. I am so sorry to her about your friend.

RTalloni on April 01, 2015:

The loss of your friend for you and her family is so difficult, but writing this introduction to the disease (and perhaps more posts as more is learned about the disease) is a useful way to remember her and encourage others to take care of their health. Thank your for sharing her experience in the context of a guide to Crohn's.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2015:

Shauna, She had a large number of family members at the funeral and my heart broke for them. Thanks so much for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2015:

Nell, I hope this does help others that have the disease or maybe just a friend that has the disease. I want people to understand how difficult this disease can be for some people. I appreciate the comments and the share.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2015:

Patricia, I will pray for your grandson and hope he doesn't have this disease. It is really tough on children I think because it alters their lives so much. The flare-ups for those that have this disease are very difficult. Thank you for your comments and the angels.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2015:

Tom, Thanks so much for your comments. Hope you are doing well.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2015:

Marcy, I know one man that has this disease. He is very thin, but watches what he eats carefully. It can be much worse for some people than others. Thank you so much for your very kind comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2015:

Suzette, I am glad that I explained it well enough for everyone to understand. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2015:

Billy, Thanks for your comments. This is really a tough disease for many people, so I thought it would be a good topic to raise awareness as you stated.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 01, 2015:

Pamela, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. My heart goes out to the family.

Thank you for this informative article.

Nell Rose from England on March 31, 2015:

Hi Pamela, I am so sorry to hear about your loss, it is such a horrible disease, and this will really help others who need to know and maybe know someone who is suffering from it, voted up and shared, nell

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 31, 2015:

At this time doctors are working furiously to determine if my baby grandson has this disease. He has the symptoms and then some. We are hoping for a resolution soon.

My best friend of years gone by was married to a young man who suffered with Crohns as well...he had a relatively normal life most of the time and then he had flare ups and boy, were they flare ups.

thanks for casting a light on this disease in such depth, Pamela.

Hoping all is well with you and yours.

Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

Tom Whitworth from Moundsville, WV on March 31, 2015:

Good information as usual Pamela.

Sorry for the loss of your friend.

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on March 31, 2015:

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend! This is indeed a serious disease, and one that few people know much about. I've had friends affected by it (so far, they're managing it), but as you said, it needs to be monitored carefully.

This is a very informative hub - thanks for helping to raise awareness. It's also a very caring way for you to honor your friend, by helping others through educating people about her disease.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on March 31, 2015:

Very interesting article. I have always wondered the difference between ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease as they are similar. You explained this well.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 31, 2015:

I'm sorry for your loss, Pamela.

I had never heard of this disease until five years ago. I had a student in middle school who had it. Obviously I then learned more about it. Thank you for raising awareness about this disease.

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