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  • Writer's pictureBrian Dooreck MD

What is Crohn's Disease?

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

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What is Crohn's disease?

Crohn's disease is a form of irritable bowel disease (IBD). It causes the digestive tract to become inflamed, which leads to stomach pain, extreme diarrhea, tiredness, weight loss, and malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn's disease may affect various areas of the digestive tract depending on the individual; this inflammation also extends through the bowel's deeper layers.

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Crohn's disease can occur in any part of your small or large intestines.

What causes Crohn's disease?

The cause of Crohn's disease is unclear. Previously, diet and stress were considered causative factors; however, experts now know that while these variables can aggravate Crohn's disease, they do not cause it. Several factors, such as inheritance and a malfunctioning immune system, will likely play a role in its development.

Genes may make people more susceptible to Crohn's, as individuals with a family history of the disease are more likely to have it. However, most individuals with Crohn's do not have a family history, leading experts to believe the immune system may play a key role in its occurrence. Exposure to a virus or bacterium in the gut may result in an abnormal immune response. This irregular response may target cells in the digestive tract when attempting to fend off invading organisms, which then causes Crohn's disease. Currently, no specific virus or bacterium has been declared the causative agent.

What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease?

Crohn's disease is not always active; signs and symptoms may appear suddenly when it flares up. They include but are not limited to:

  • Diarrhea

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Abdominal pain and cramping

  • Bloody stool

  • Mouth sores

  • Lack of appetite and rapid weight loss

  • Pain or drainage near or around the anus

Individuals with more severe cases of Crohn's disease may experience the following:

  • Skin, eye, and joint inflammation

  • Liver or bile duct inflammation

  • Kidney stones

  • Chronic anemia

  • In children, delayed growth or sexual development

Be aware. Be seen. Be screened for colorectal cancer if warranted.

How is Crohn's disease diagnosed & treated?

There are many methods used to screen for Crohn's disease, including:

  • Colonoscopy

  • Blood tests

  • Stool tests

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

  • Endoscopy

Your doctor may use any combination of the above exams to determine a diagnosis. Once Crohn's disease is confirmed, treatment typically consists of anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, vitamins and supplements, antidiarrheals, and nutrition therapy. In extreme cases, surgery may be required to remove diseased sections of the intestine, and a feeding tube may be recommended to allow the bowel to rest.

Remember: prevention is key 🔑. Paying attention to your body, maintaining a well-balanced diet 🍽 and an active lifestyle are significant factors in reducing your risk of developing Crohn's disease.

Check out this short informational video on Nutrition & Crohn's disease by Stanford Health Care :


I eat a high-fiber, mostly plant-based 🌱 diet, no red meat, drink 4 liters of water a day, exercise, and am focused on keeping nutrition simple. I am sharing what works for me and what I routinely recommend to my patients.

"Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthy. 🌱 🌾 🌿"

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