Crohn's disease is related closely to another chronic inflammatory condition that involves only the colon called ulcerative colitis. Together, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are frequently referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease have no medical cure. Once the diseases begin, they tend to fluctuate between periods of inactivity (remission) and activity (relapse). They affect approximately 500,000 to two million people in the United States. Men and women are equally affected. IBD most commonly begins during adolescence and early adulthood, but it also can begin during childhood and later in life.
Crohn's disease tends to be more common in relatives of patients with Crohn's disease. It also is more common among relatives of patients with ulcerative colitis.
It prdominates in the intestine (ileum) and the large intestine (colon), but may occour in any section of the GI tract. Crohn's disease usually causes diarrea, crampy abdominal pain, often fever, and at times rectal bleeding. Loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss also may occur. Symptoms may range from mild to severe, but in general people with Crohn's disease can lead active and productive lives. Crohn's disease is chronic. We don't know its cause. Medication currently available decreases inflammation and usually controls the symptoms, but does not provide a cure. The diagnosis is suggested by the history (signs and symptomes). Additional testing to help make the diagnosis may include barium x-rays of the upper and lower GI tract, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and sometimes colonoscopy. The last two permit a direct examination of the colon with a lighted tube inserted through the anus. Druing these tests, biopsies may be obtaine to help make a diagnosis.) Laboratory tests are so helpful and include evaluation of the blood and stool. Several groups of drugs form the mainstay of therapy for Crohn's disease today. They are: Aminosalicylates (asprin like drugs); Corticosteriods; Immune modifiers; Antibiotics. Surgery becomes necessary in Crohn's disease when medications can no longer control the symptoms, or when there is an intestinal obstruction or other complication.
Contact: Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc. , National Headquarters, 386 Park Ave. South, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10016-8804; phone (212)685-3440; (800)932-2423; Fax: (212)779-4098; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: http://www.ccfa.org/