Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and even malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn's disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people. The inflammation caused by Crohn's disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Like ulcerative colitis, another common IBD, Crohn's disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications. Although it may involve any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus, it most commonly affects the last part of the small intestine (ileum) and/or the large intestine (colon and rectum).
Any age group may be affected, but the majority of patients are young adults between 16 and 40 years old. Crohn's disease occurs most commonly in people living in northern climates. It affects men and women equally and appears to be common in some families. About 20 percent of people with Crohn's disease have a relative, most often a brother or sister, and sometimes a parent or child, with some form of inflammatory bowel disease. Patients with Crohn's disease can feel pain; the condition makes the intestines empty frequently, resulting in diarrhea. Crohn's disease is not contagious, but it does have a slight genetic (inherited) tendency. An x-ray study of the small intestine may be used to diagnose Crohn's disease. The exact cause of this disease is unknown. Crohn's disease symptoms will often vary depending on which part of the gut is affected. When the wall of the affected part of the gut is inflamed, the patient may experience the following symptoms: Pain - the level of pain varies according to the patient, and where the inflammation is in the gut. Most commonly, pain will be felt at the lower-right side of the abdomen; because the majority of inflammations are locate in the ileum (lower end...
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