Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel condition that can affect any part of your digestive tract. However, it’s most commonly found in the lower part of the small intestine or colon. About 700,000 people in the U.S. are affected by Crohn’s disease. Doctors aren’t sure what causes it, but experts believe it’s a combination of genetics, your environment and an overactive immune system.
Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhea (sometimes 10 – 20 times a day), weight loss, mouth sores, bowel blockages and anal fissures. You may experience mild symptoms or go for a long time without noticing any symptoms. Some people have ongoing severe symptoms.
Crohn’s disease can lead to other complications, such as ulcers and problems with absorbing enough nutrients to keep you healthy. Some people also experience joint pain and skin problems.
Most Crohn’s patients first see a healthcare provider because of ongoing associated symptoms of Crohn's such as diarrhea, belly cramping or unexplained weight loss. Your doctor will likely ask you about your symptoms and conduct a physical exam.
Your doctor may also order one or more of the following tests to determine if you have Crohn’s:
If you are diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, your Mercy doctor will develop a treatment plan that helps manage this disease so you don’t have to worry about embarrassing symptoms interrupting your life.
While there’s no cure for Crohn’s, there are things you can do to keep it under control.
Medicine is the most common form of treatment. There are over-the-counter options available but talk to your doctor before taking any. If your doctor prescribes medicine, be sure to follow the instructions closely.
Exercising and eating healthy is recommended. Avoid smoking because that makes Crohn’s disease worse.
Surgery won't cure Crohn's, but it may help treat complications. You may need surgery to treat bleeding, blockages or intestinal perforations (holes).
At Mercy, we offer comprehensive testing services to diagnose conditions and injuries, including:
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