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What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), resulting in swelling and dysfunction of the intestinal tract.  The inflammation causes swelling, redness, and loss of normal bowel function.

The immune system then attacks the body instead of helpfully attacking a foreign invader (a virus or bacteria, for example).  Crohn’s is an auto-immune disease.

The inflammation of Crohn’s disease most commonly affects the last part of the ileum (a part of the small intestine), and often includes the large intestine (the colon). However, inflammation may also occur in other areas of the gastrointestinal tract, affecting the mouth, esophagus, or stomach depending on the person.

Some symptoms of Crohn’s disease include diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, inability to eat, weight loss, and fatigue. Some patients have severe pain that is like appendicitis.

Crohn’s disease also limits the ability of the affected intestine to absorb the nutrients from food; a patient with Crohn’s disease can have signs of malnutrition, depending on the amount of intestine affected by the disease and the time of having Crohn’s.

The combination of severe inflammation, ulceration, and scarring that occurs in Crohn’s disease can result in serious complications, including obstruction, abscess formation, and fistula formation.