7 Surprising Facts About Crohn's Disease

  • portrait-of-a-smiling-woman
    What You Learn About Crohn’s Disease Can Help You Cope
    Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects about half a million adults and children in the United States. Symptoms involve the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and commonly include persistent diarrhea. People living with Crohn’s disease may feel embarrassed about the symptoms and stressed when they strike. There is not yet a cure for Crohn’s disease, but symptoms can be managed effectively. One way to feel more in control is to understand some key facts about the disease. 



  • young woman smiling at desk
    1. Crohn’s disease is a young person’s condition that lasts a lifetime.
    Most people are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease before they’re 30 years old. About 20 to 30% of people living with Crohn’s disease were diagnosed before they reached age 20. There is not yet a cure for Crohn’s disease, but your doctor can develop a treatment plan to help you manage symptoms. Symptoms may change over time, and you may experience periods of remission where you have no symptoms at all. Always consult with your doctor about symptoms when you experience them. 



  • food-at-holiday-party
    2. Diet doesn’t cause Crohn’s disease.
    At one time, diet was thought to cause Crohn’s disease, but the actual cause is still not known. The latest thinking is that the cause may be a combination of inherited genes and a faulty immune system response. If you’re living with Crohn’s disease, and your symptoms flare up when you eat certain things, keep a food diary to share with your doctor and ask for suggestions. Some people see their symptoms improve when they limit fiber, dairy or fat.



  • Human digestive system, artwork
    3. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GI tract, from one end to the other.
    The GI tract connects all the organs in the human body that digest food and process waste. The tract includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and colon. Crohn’s disease most commonly affects the lower part of the small intestine. But it can affect any part of the GI tract, impacting some areas and bypassing others. Your doctor may use procedures, such as a colonoscopy, to get a detailed view of any affected areas in your GI tract.    



  • Red Sore eye
    4. Crohn’s disease can affect areas outside of the GI tract, from your eyes to your bones.
    The symptoms most people with Crohn’s disease experience are a sense of urgency to have a bowel movement, diarrhea, and painful abdominal cramping. Some people also develop complications outside of the GI tract and have symptoms in other parts of their bodies. These symptoms may include red, inflamed eyes; joint soreness or pain; skin rashes or sores; kidney stones; and osteoporosis. Be aware of these complications and share any symptoms you experience with your doctor.    



  • doctor diagnosis
    5. There is no one single way to diagnose Crohn’s disease.
    There is a gene associated with Crohn’s disease, but having the gene only suggests you may be more likely to develop the disease. Genetic testing isn’t effective in diagnosis, and current clinical guidelines don’t recommend it. Since Crohn’s disease shares symptoms with other diseases, your doctor may rule out other causes first. Tests and procedures often include fecal occult tests to look for blood in your stool, colonoscopies with tissue biopsies, and scans, such as computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resource imaging (MRI). 



  • Diverse team of female surgeons in hospital surgery room
    6. Most people with Crohn’s disease eventually have surgery.
    Different people living with Crohn’s disease have different symptoms. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms, taking their severity into account. Your doctor may order bowel rest and prescribe medication. He or she may also refer you to healthcare providers for help with the emotional aspects of a chronic disease. When medication stops being effective, your doctor may recommend surgery. About 70% percent of people with Crohn’s disease have surgical treatment. 



  • 3D DNA
    7. Our genes may be the key to the cure for Crohn’s disease.
    Genetic testing is not yet a reliable tool for diagnosing Crohn’s disease. But genetic research is helping the medical community understand what may cause the disease, discover better treatments, and close in on a cure. Researchers have already found more than 160 genes that contribute to inflammatory bowel disease. New treatments are tested in clinical trials that take learning from the lab and apply it to patient care. Ask your doctor about clinical trials that may be appropriate for you.           



7 Surprising Facts About Crohn's Disease

About The Author

Evelyn Creekmore has more than 15 years of experience writing online educational health content, including nearly 10 years full-time at WebMD, where she was the director of brand content. She holds an MPH in Applied Public Health Informatics from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and an MA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Facts about Crohn’s Disease. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm107358.htm
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)? http://www.cdc.gov/ibd/what-is-ibd.htm
  3. CCFA Fact Sheet. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. http://www.ccfa.org/assets/pdfs/emotional.pdf
  4. The Facts About Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. http://www.ccfa.org/assets/pdfs/ibdfactbook.pdf
  5. Molodecky NA, Soon IS, Rabi DM, et al. Increasing incidence and prevalence of the inflammatory bowel diseases with time, based on systematic review. Gastroenterology. 2012;142(1):46-54.
  6. Pediatric Crohn Disease. Medscape. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/928288-overview
  7. Crohn’s Disease Causes. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/crohns-disease/basics/causes/con-20032061
  8. Crohn’s Disease Lifestyle and Home Remedies. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/crohns-disease/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-2003...
  9. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Anatomy/your-digestive-system/Pages/anato...
  10. Crohn’s Disease Tests and Diagnosis. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/crohns-disease/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20032061
  11. Sachar DB. The problem of postoperative recurrence of Crohn’s disease. Med Clin North Am. 1990;74:183-188.
  12. Cosnes J, Nion-Larmurier I, Beaugerie L, Afchain P, Tiret E, Gendre JP. Impact of increasing use of immunosuppressants in Crohn’s disease on the need for intestinal surgery. Gut. 2005;54:237-241.
  13. Bennell O, Lapidus A, Hellers G. Risk factors for surgery and postoperative recurrence in Crohn’s disease. Ann Surg. 2000;231:38-45. 


























Was this helpful?
534
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 22
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.