According to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, approximately 270,000 Canadians have an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In the United States, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America indicates that IBD affects approximately 3 million Americans.
Crohn’s Disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder, which means the immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract. This autoimmune activity produces inflammation (redness, swelling, pain) and it may occur in any part of the gastrointestinal tract (from mouth to anus), but it most commonly affects the lower part of the small intestine. Unfortunately, CD can be difficult to diagnose as symptoms can be attributed to many other conditions. CD and a related disease, ulcerative colitis, have similar symptoms and both are classified as inflammatory bowel diseases. However, ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon (or large intestine).
While Crohn’s disease can occur at any age, most people are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. CD can also occur in young children and people who are 70 years of age or older. Crohn’s disease is a chronic (ongoing) condition. Some people with CD go for years without symptoms, while others may have flare-ups that are more frequent.
Signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease may include: