Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a long-term condition that causes painful swelling (inflammation) along the digestive tract. The most common symptoms are abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, and weight loss. Healthcare providers often use a combination of imaging, blood, and stool tests to diagnose Crohn's disease. While there is no cure for the condition, sometimes treatment can help relieve symptoms. Treatment options include medications, surgery, and diet changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes Crohn's disease?

    Crohn's disease is caused by patchy areas of inflammation and deep ulcers in the GI tract. The lesions can affect one or more sections of the GI tract, appearing anywhere between the mouth and the anus and causing irritation of the tissue. These issues interfere with digestion of food and lead to the symptoms and complications of Crohn’s disease.

  • How do you get Crohn's disease?

    Hereditary and environmental issues are associated with Crohn’s disease, and sometimes it occurs without risk factors. Risk factors include family history, smoking, urban living, and bacterial overgrowth. Experts believe that a weak immune system or an overactive immune system could be at play. Certain medications, including antibiotics and NSAIDs, may contribute to the condition as well.

  • How is Crohn's disease diagnosed?

    Crohn’s disease is diagnosed with several criteria, and direct visualization of the lesions is the most definitive. Endoscopy or colonoscopy may identify a cobblestone-like appearance of the lesions. Weight loss, ulcerations on imaging tests, or inflammatory blood test markers (like erythrocyte sedimentation rate), can support the diagnosis and help determine its severity and prognosis.

  • Is Crohn's disease genetic?

    There is a familial predisposition to Crohn’s disease, and experts suggest that there could be a genetic component, as well as environmental factors that contribute to this condition. There is no clear hereditary pattern of Crohn’s disease inheritance, and there is no specific gene identified as responsible for the condition.

Key Terms

Page Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mancini NL, Rajeev S, Jayme TS, Wang A, Keita ÅV, Workentine ML, Hamed S, Söderholm JD, Lopes F, Shutt TE, Shearer J, McKay DM. Crohn's Disease Pathobiont Adherent-Invasive E coli Disrupts Epithelial Mitochondrial Networks With Implications for Gut Permeability. Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Sep 28:S2352-345X(20)30156-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmgh.2020.09.013

  2. Chen G, Lissoos T, Dieyi C, Null KD. Development and Validation of an Inflammatory Bowel Disease Severity Index Using US Administrative Claims Data: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2020 Oct 12:izaa263. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izaa263

  3. Włodarczyk M, Sobolewska-Włodarczyk A, Stec-Michalska K, Fichna J, Wiśniewska-Jarosińska M. The influence of family pattern abnormalities in the early stages of life on the course of inflammatory bowel diseases. Pharmacol Rep. 2016 Aug;68(4):852-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pharep.2016.04.008

  4. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Fistula removal.

Additional Reading