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People with Crohn disease have inflamed tissues in their digestive tract.
Crohn disease is one type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is a chronic (long-lasting) condition. Crohn disease can develop at any age, but it most commonly develops between ages 20 and 30 years.
The symptoms of Crohn disease can be different in different people. They might come on slowly. Or, they might come on suddenly and severely, without warning. You might have Crohn disease if you
Have loose, watery stools
Have belly pains and cramps
Have bloody stools
Feel sick to your stomach or vomit
Have less appetite
Are losing weight
A tired feeling
Painful, inflamed joints
Rashes or ulcers
Sores around the anus
For most patients, symptoms come and go. The pattern is usually not predictable. The return of symptoms is called a flare. Most patients will have flares throughout their lives and so most will need lifelong treatment.
The cause of Crohn disease is not known. There are a number of possible causes. Your doctor can explain these causes.
Treatment has several goals. It can reduce the number of flares. It can help you feel normal. And it can keep you feeling normal longer. Some new medicines might help prevent complications of Crohn disease.
Like all medicines, those used to treat Crohn disease have risks. Your doctor can discuss the options. Your doctor can also choose a medicine that is right for you.
Sometimes medicine doesn’t help. If that happens, your doctor might suggest surgery. During surgery, the inflamed part of the digestive tract is removed. Some patients need surgery more than once. Surgery will not cure Crohn disease, but it can help you feel better so you can return to your normal activities.
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundations of Americawww.ccfa.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov
To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on JAMA’s website at jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: The author has completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none were reported.
Sources: Crohn’s & Colitis Foundations of America; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Topic: Digestive System
Cheifetz A. Crohn Disease. JAMA. 2014;312(16):1708. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.7962