is an ongoing (chronic) condition that may flare up throughout your life. It affects different people in different ways. Some people
may have only mild symptoms. Others may have severe symptoms or
complications that, in rare cases, may be life-threatening.
The term inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes a group of disorders in which the intestines become inflamed. The likeliest cause is an immune reaction the body has against its own intestinal tissue.
Two major types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon or large intestine. Crohn's disease, on the other hand, can involve any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. Most commonly, though, it affects the small intestine...
Crohn's disease 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).
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. This scar tissue can form
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 form. Fistulas can form 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
found 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. It's a good idea to talk with your doctor about which medicines are okay. But sometimes severe Crohn's disease can
harm your baby more than medicines to keep it under control.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
May 16, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this