is an ongoing (chronic) condition that may flare up throughout your life. The
course of the disease varies greatly from one person to another. Some people
may have only mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms or
complications that, in unusual cases, may be life-threatening.
Crohn's disease may be mild, moderate, severe, or not
remission). It may be defined by the part of the
digestive tract involved, such as the rectum and anus (perianal disease) or the
area where the small intestine joins the large intestine (ileocecal disease).
Some people may have features of both Crohn's disease and
ulcerative colitis, the other major type of
inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Crohn's disease can cause symptoms outside the digestive tract, such as joint pain, eye
problems, a skin rash, or liver disease.
Because Crohn's disease can cause inflammation in parts
of the intestines that absorb nutrients from food, it can cause deficiencies in
vitamin B12, folic acid, or other nutrients. The disease can increase the risk
kidney stones, and certain uncommon forms of
In long-term Crohn's disease,
scar tissue may replace some of the inflamed or ulcerated intestines, forming
blockages (bowel obstructions) or narrowed areas (strictures) that can prevent
stool from passing through the intestines. Blockages in the intestines also can
be caused by inflammation and swelling, which may improve with medicines.
Sometimes blockages can only be treated with surgery.
break through the wall of the intestines, abnormal connections or openings
(fistulas) may develop between two parts of the
intestines, between the intestines and other organs (such as the bladder or
vagina), or between the intestines and the skin. In rare cases, this can lead
to infection of the abdominal wall.
Crohn's disease of the colon
and rectum that has been present for 8 years or longer increases the
risk of cancer. With regular screening, some cancers can be
detected early and treated successfully.
Most women who have
Crohn's disease can have a normal pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. The best idea is to wait until the disease is in remission before becoming pregnant. Women who become pregnant when their disease is under control are more likely to avoid flare-ups during pregnancy. Some medicines used to treat the disease
can be used during pregnancy.