gastrointestinal conditions

Crohn's Disease

Crohn's Disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Unfortunately, Crohn's can strike anywhere from the mouth to the anus—the opening where bowel movements exit your body.

Crohn's Disease Symptoms

This inflammation can cause a number of symptoms, including:

  • Severe and recurrent diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weight loss

You may also experience nausea, fever, fatigue and a decrease in red blood cells—a problem called anemia. The inflammation can go deep into the digestive tissues, and some people with Crohn's even develop sores outside their digestive tract.

What causes Crohn's?

Researchers suggest Crohn's is often caused by your own immune system mistaking healthy cells for an illness that needs to be attacked. Genetics may also be a factor, as Crohn's can run in families. A history of taking certain medications and smoking may also put you at risk for the disease. Because of all these factors, our gastroenterologist will review both your medical and family history with you as part of your exam.

In addition to reviewing your history, your doctor may also:

  • Perform a physical exam
  • Send your blood and/or stool samples to a lab for further testing
  • Recommend imaging studies of your digestive tract


During your physical exam, your doctor may check your abdomen for pain and distention. He or she may also listen to the activity of your digestive tract through a stethoscope.

Lab work can tell your doctor if you have signs of infection or bleeding in your digestive system.

Imaging procedures help your doctor exam which tissues may be affected by Crohn's Disease. These tests may also rule out other problems like ulcerative colitis and celiac disease.

Depending on your symptoms and health history, we may recommend:

  • Colonoscopy, which provides images of your entire large intestine, or colon
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy, which provides a look at the last section of your colon
  • Upper endoscopy, which gives your doctor a view of your esophagus, stomach and upper small intestine
  • Specialized X-rays and/or MRI scan

Treatment of Crohn's Disease

If your doctor diagnoses you with Crohn's disease, the treatment of your illness will vary depending on how badly your digestive system is affected by your disease. Our doctors are committed to working with you to determine the best course of treatment for you.

Your doctor may also recommend a special diet or even a period of rest for your bowels, which may require receiving nutrition and fluids through an IV tube.

Your doctor may prescribe medicines to help your symptoms:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the painful swelling of your tissues
  • Immune-suppression drugs to reduce your immune system's attacks on healthy tissue
  • Antibiotics to fight any infection or to adjust the bacteria in your gut

If you have tissues that are too badly damaged, your gastroenterologist may suggest surgery to cut out damaged sections of your intestines and then reattach the health sections. While surgery doesn't cure Crohn's, it may provide a period of relief and give medications a chance to slow the progress of the disease.