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Crohn’s Disease & Bowel Health

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by inflammation of the digestive, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In fact, Crohn’s can affect any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, but it is more commonly found at the end of the small intestine (the ileum) where it joins the beginning of the large intestine (or colon). It can also affect your eyes, skin and joints.

Who gets Crohn’s Disease

Up to 20% of people with Crohn’s have a blood relative who had Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Approximately 700,000 people in the United States are affected by Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease can occur at any time, but most often starts between ages 15-35. Symptoms range from mild to severe.

Crohn’s Causes

Crohn’s is not contagious, nor is it caused by something you may have done or eaten.

Crohn’s appears to be a result of an interaction of factors

  • Heredity: You may inherit genes that make you more susceptible to developing Crohn’s
  • The immune system: When triggered, it affects the gastrointestinal tract, causing inflammation that contributes to symptoms
  • Environmental factors: Bacteria, a virus, or some unidentified factor in the environment that triggers an abnormal immune response

Foreign substances (antigens) in the environment may also be a cause of inflammation, or they may stimulate the body’s defenses to produce inflammation that continues without control.

Crohn’s and the Immune System

Researchers believe people with Crohn’s experience an overactive immune response. As a result, the intestines become raw and inflamed (red and swollen)—chronically. This continuous, damaging inflammation occurs in the digestive tract and leads to Crohn’s symptoms.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you experience a persistent change in your bowel habits or if you have any of the signs and symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. Although inflammatory bowel disease usually isn't fatal, it's a serious disease that, in some cases, may cause life-threatening complications.


  1. Learn About the Common Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis.” Crohn's and Colitis,
  2. Learn the Facts About Crohn's Disease.” Crohn's and Colitis,
  3. Learn About the Common Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis.” Crohn's and Colitis,

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