Crohn Disease: At a Glance
Crohn disease is chronic inflammation of the intestinal wall that typically involves the lower part of the small intestine, the upper part of the large intestine, or both but may affect any part of the digestive tract.
In the past few decades, Crohn disease has become more common worldwide. However, it is most common among people of Northern European and Anglo-Saxon descent. It occurs about equally in both sexes, often runs in families, and seems to be more common among Ashkenazi Jews.
Most people develop Crohn disease before age 30, usually between the ages of 14 and 24.
For a full discussion, see Crohn disease.
A doctor may suspect Crohn disease in a person with recurring crampy abdominal pain and diarrhea, particularly if the person has a family history of Crohn disease. An imaging test (such as computed tomography, barium x-rays, wireless capsule endoscopy, or colonoscopy) and a biopsy are done to confirm the diagnosis.
Viewing the Digestive Tract With an Endoscope
Crohn disease has no known cure, and flare-ups may occur at irregular intervals throughout a person's life. Flare-ups may be mild or severe, few or frequent. Crohn disease usually does not shorten a person's life.
Many treatments, including changes in diet and drugs, help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms.
About half of people diagnosed with Crohn disease require surgery at some point.