Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.
Inflammation caused by Crohn's disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people. This inflammation often spreads into the deeper layers of the bowel.
Crohn's disease can be painful, debilitating and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications.
While there's no known cure for Crohn's disease, therapies can greatly reduce its signs and symptoms, and even bring about long-term remission and healing of inflammation. With treatment, many people with Crohn's disease are able to function well.
The goal of Crohn's disease treatment is to reduce or eliminate the inflammation that triggers your symptoms. This may lead not only to symptom relief, but also long-term remission and reduced risks of complications. Crohn's disease treatment usually involves drug therapy, nutrition therapy or a combination of both.
If diet changes, drug therapy, or other treatments don't relieve your signs and symptoms, you and your healthcare team may consider surgery. Nearly half of patients with Crohn's disease will require at least one surgery. However, surgery does not cure Crohn's disease.
During surgery, your surgeon removes a damaged portion of your digestive tract and then reconnects the healthy sections. Your surgeon may also close or drain any fistulas that have developed because of Crohn's disease. Fistulas are an abnormal connection between body parts caused by an ulcer. Fistulas can develop between your intestine and your skin or between your intestine and another organ.
The best approach is to follow surgery with medication to minimize the risk of recurrence.
Not all treatments, tests and services are available at all Mayo Clinic Health System locations. Check with your preferred location in advance.