Skip to content

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Unlike ulcerative colitis, it is not isolated to one area. It can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the colon. Typically, it affects the ileum (end of the small bowel) and the beginning of the colon. Crohn’s disease mostly occurs among ages 15 to 35 years. It is estimated that 700,000 in the US suffer from it, which represents about 50% of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) cases.

chrons disease

Causes

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease remains unknown, but many doctors believe it has to do with family history/heredity or immune system malfunctioning. Studies have shown that 5-20% of affected individuals have a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) that also suffer from it. Diet or stress can aggravate Crohn’s disease but are not the cause.

Bacteria aiding in digestion naturally resides in the GI tract and normally does not bother someone. However, people with inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease experience inflammation caused by the immune system reacting to the bacteria. It can involve different areas of the digestive tract depending on the person.

Symptoms

Crohn’s is an IBD that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Signs and symptoms range from mild to severe. There can also be periods of remission. Symptoms specific to GI tract inflammation are:

  • Abdominal pain/cramps
  • Urgent bowel movements
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding

Other symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss
  • Malnutrition/anemia
  • Night sweats

Sometimes people with Crohn’s disease may not experience many symptoms, but specific foods may trigger them. 

Diagnosis 

There is no single test to diagnose Crohn’s disease. Our specialists will rule out other possible symptom causes, then use a combination of tests to help confirm a diagnosis. These include:

  • Blood tests – To check for anemia or signs of infection.
  • Stool studies – To check for hidden blood or organisms such as parasites.
  • Colonoscopy To look for clusters of inflammatory cells called granulomas.
  • CT scan To view the entire bowel and tissues outside the bowel.
  • MRI – To evaluate if a fistula is present.
  • Capsule endoscopy – To obtain pictures of the small intestine.

Treatment

Although there is no known cure for Crohn’s disease, therapies can reduce signs and symptoms and even encourage healing of the inflammation. With treatment, those suffering can function well. Treatments include:

  • Medication – This is the primary form of immediate treatment. It won’t cure the disease, but it does help suppress it. This allows time for the GI tract tissue to heal damage in the lining, which will increase time between flare-ups.
  • Nutrition – Avoiding certain foods and improving nutritional intake helps control flare-ups.
  • Surgery –  Surgery is necessary if medication and diet cannot control flare-ups. Nearly 70% of people with Crohn’s disease need surgery at some time in their life because it can lead to the creation of a fissure, fistula, or some bowel obstruction. A portion of the affected area may also need to be removed, called a resection.

Find an Office

Gladstone Office

6060 North Oak Trafficway
Suite 101
Gladstone, MO 64118
Phone: (816) 941-0800

Leawood Office

4370 W 109th St.
#350
Overland Park, KS 66211
Phone: (816) 941-0800

Overland Park Office

10100 W 87th St.
Suite 200
Overland Park, KS 66212
Phone: (816) 941-0800

Independence Office

19550 E 39th St
Suite 320
Independence, MO 64057
Phone: (816) 941-0800

Lee’s Summit

1980 SE Blue Parkway
Suite 2330
Lee’s Summit, MO 64063
Phone: (816) 941-0800