Crohn's disease is a chronic illness in which the intestine, or bowel, becomes inflamed and marked with sores, or ulcers. Along with ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease is part of a group of diseases known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Crohn's disease most commonly affects the lower part of the small intestine known as the ileum. It can, though, occur in any part of the large or small intestine, stomach, esophagus, or even the mouth. It can occur at any age, but it's most common between the ages of 15 and 30.
What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease?
People with Crohn's disease experience periods of severe symptoms. These are followed by periods with no symptoms when the disease is in remission. With Crohn's disease, remission can last for weeks or even years. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine when a remission will occur or when symptoms will return.
The symptoms of Crohn's disease depend on where the disease occurs in the bowel. They also depend on how severe the disease is. In general, symptoms can include:
Abdominal pain and tenderness -- often in the lower, right section of the abdomen
Chronic (long-term) diarrhea
Delayed development and stunted growth in children
Feeling of fullness in the abdomen, particularly in the lower, right section
How is Crohn's disease treated?
There is no cure for Crohn's disease. Treatment is determined by the severity and location of the disease. Because the disease can sometimes go into remission on its own, it's not always possible to determine whether a specific treatment has been effective.
When Crohn's disease is active, treatment has three objectives: