What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is a chronic (ongoing) condition that is characterised by inflammation of the digestive tract. The inflammation can affect any part of the digestive tract but commonly occurs in the lower part of the small intestine (ileum) or the caecum (part of the large intestine). Sometimes, the intestinal inflammation can be accompanied by a skin rash or inflammation of the eye, joints or tendons.

Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system attacks its own body tissues. While the exact cause of Crohn’s disease is currently unknown, some triggers for Crohn’s disease could include a genetic tendency, environmental and lifestyle factors, and exposure to certain bacteria or viruses.

People with Crohn’s disease typically experience periods of disease activity (flares) and periods of inactivity (remission) and cycle through these two states. People may go into remission following treatment but a relapse of symptoms is common. Symptoms during a flare can include diarrhoea, abdominal pain or discomfort, fever, nausea, vomiting, tiredness and weight loss. In more severe cases, Crohn’s disease can cause extensive damage to the intestines, ulceration of the intestinal wall and other serious complications, such as the formation of fistulae (tunnels that form between different sections of the intestines or between the intestines and other organs such as the skin) and the need for surgery.

If you have any further questions about your treatment options, please contact your doctor.