Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease, of which the cause is not known. In people with Crohn’s disease, the immune system recognizes the lining of the digestive tract as foreign and attacks it, causing inflammation. This inflammation causes the lining of the digestive tract to develop ulcers and bleed. Crohn’s disease usually affects the colon and ileum, but it can affect the entire digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus (whereas ulcerative colitis only affects the colon)
Crohn's disease symptoms
The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are:
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
Other symptoms can include:
- Eye inflammation: Inflammation of the eyes (called uveitis or scleritis) occurs in up to 5% of people with Crohn’s disease. It can affect one or both eyes. Symptoms of uveitis include "floaters" in the vision, eye pain, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light. Scleritis can cause burning or itching of the affected eye.
- Anal problems: Crohn's disease can cause problems in the area around the anus. The most common problems include fissures (tears), ulcers, fistulas (a tunnel between the intestine and other organs), infected areas of skin, and stenosis (narrowing of the anus).
Diagnosis of Crohn's disease
The diagnosis is based upon your symptoms, a physical examination, and laboratory tests. You will probably need a colonoscopy. It might be necessary to request radiological imaging of the small bowel.
UpToDate Subscriptions for Patients and Caregivers
Crohn's Disease - Mayo Clinic
Crohn's Disease - MediciNenet.com