Crohn’s disease is named after the doctor who first described it in 1932 (since he did not have the disease itself, it is sometimes more accurately called Crohn disease).
The inflammation from Crohn’s can strike anywhere in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from mouth to anus, but is usually located in the lower part of the small bowel and the upper end of the colon. Patches of inflammation are interspersed between healthy portions of the gut, and can penetrate the intestinal layers from inner to outer lining.
Crohn’s can also affect the mesentery, which is the network of tissue that holds the small bowel to the abdomen and contains the main intestinal blood vessels and lymph glands.
What are the Symptoms?
Since Crohn’s can be located anywhere in the GI tract, symptoms can vary. On the whole however, they often include abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and, not surprisingly, weight loss and lack of energy.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic (lifelong) illness. People who have Crohn’s will experience periods of acute flare-ups, when their symptoms are active, and other times when their symptoms go into remission. The average risk of a flare-up in any one year is approximately 30%.
In 25% of those with Crohn’s, perianal disease may also develop. “Peri” means “around” – therefore perianal disease is located “around the anus”. Specifically this means that a person could develop:
- painful, swollen skin tags (that appear to be haemhorrhoids but are not)
- abscesses (bags of pus created inside the body as a result of infection)
- fistulas (infections that have tunneled from the abscess to a hollow organ such as the rectum or vagina)
Can Crohn's be Cured?
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease - yet.
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada funds medical research into Crohn’s disease, and with the help of our generous donors and partners we will eliminate these diseases. Please donate now and join us in our mission to cure Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and improve the lives of children and adults living with these chronic diseases.
Need more Information?
Your local chapter of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is a powerhouse of health information. Through education, presentation and discussion, people can find resources to help them cope with their Crohn’s, and meet others who are living with Crohn’s or colitis. Please go to Get Involved to look up the chapter closest to you. It’s in your best interest to get active and informed!