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Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is a non-contagious disorder, which involves the chronic inflammation and ulceration of several layers of intestinal wall tissue.

Crohn's disease is usually centered in the last section of the small intestines, but tissue ulceration can also affect the entire digestive system from the mouth to the anus (creating cracks in and around the anus). Scar tissue may build up and narrow the passageway. The combination of inflammation and scar tissue sometimes results in a severe obstruction of the bowel.

Abnormal passages (fistulas) may develop, leading from one intestinal loop to another loop or organ like the bladder. Leakage of the ulcerated intestinal wall can also lead to peritonitis. The disease, which is rare (though increasing in incidence), typically begins in young people between the ages of 14 and 30 and recurs throughout adulthood.

Some individuals have only one or two bouts of inflammation and ulceration and then go into remission. Other people suffer attacks over and over through their lifetime.

Crohn's disease is similar to ulcerative colitis, and can therefore be confused with this condition. Colitis, however, is a less disruptive disorder that ulcerates only the first two layers of bowel lining whereas Crohn's disease ulcerates the connective and muscular tissues in the next two layers.

References and Sources: Medline, Pubmed, National Institutes of Health

last update: December 2008

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this material to diagnose or treat a health condition or disease without consulting with your healthcare provider.
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