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Crohn's Disease

Crohn's Disease Symptoms and Causes

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that is a chronic condition that may recur at various times over a lifetime. It usually involves the small intestine, most often the lower part called the ileum. However, in some cases, both the small and large intestine are affected. Sometimes, inflammation may also affect the entire digestive tract, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, duodenum, appendix or anus.

Crohn's disease affects males and females equally. It appears to run in some families, with about 20 percent of people with Crohn's disease having a blood relative with some form of inflammatory bowel disease.

Crohn's Disease Symptoms

Crohn's disease symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain, often in the lower right area
  • Diarrhea, sometimes bloody
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Rectal fissure
  • Rashes

Some people have long periods of remission, sometimes for years, when they are free of Crohn's disease symptoms. There is no way to predict when a remission may occur or when symptoms will return.

Crohn's Disease Causes

There are many theories regarding Crohn's disease causes. One theory suggests that some agent, perhaps a virus or a bacterium, affects the body's immune system and triggers an inflammatory reaction in the intestinal wall. Although there is a lot of evidence that patients with this disease have abnormalities of the immune system, it is not known whether the immune problems are a cause or a result of the disease. Physicians believe that there is little proof that emotional distress or unhappy childhoods are Crohn's disease causes.