This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the general name for conditions that cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Common signs and symptoms include abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, and weight loss. Other general symptoms include feeling tired, nausea and loss of appetite, fever, and anemia. Complications of Crohn’s disease may include intestinal blockage, fistulas, anal fissures, ulcers, malnutrition, and inflammation in other areas of the body. Crohn’s disease can occur in people of all age groups but is most often diagnosed in young adults. The exact cause is unknown, but is thought to be due from a combination of certain genetic variations, changes in the immune system, and the presence of bacteria in the digestive tract. Many of the major genes related to Crohn disease, including NOD2, ATG16L1, IL23R, and IRGM, are involved in immune system function. The disease is not inherited but it appears to run in some families because in about 15% of the cases the disease is present in more than one relative.
Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and reducing inflammation, and may include diet and medication, but some people require surgery. Surgery often involves removal of the diseased segment of bowel (resection), the two ends of healthy bowel are then joined together (anastomosis). In about 30% of people who have surgery for Crohn’s disease symptoms may come back within three years and up to 60% will have recurrence within ten years.
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