Understanding Crohn’s disease
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s is one of a group of disorders collectively referred to as “inflammatory bowel disease” (IBD). Crohn’s causes painful inflammation in your digestive tract and usually occurs in the lower part of the small intestine or colon.
What causes Crohn’s disease?
While the direct cause of Crohn’s is unknown, here’s what we do know: First, you may be more likely to experience Crohn’s if it’s part of your family’s medical history. Second, Crohn’s symptoms begin when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body, for reasons we do not yet understand.
Normally, the immune system (the body’s natural defense system) protects your body from bacteria, viruses, and other foreign agents. When you have Crohn’s, your immune system incorrectly targets your GI tract. This causes inflammation, leading to the symptoms and flares usually experienced with Crohn’s.
Who gets Crohn’s disease?
Crohn's seems to run in families—20%-25% of people with Crohn's have a close relative with some form of IBD
Crohn's most often appears in people between the ages of 15 and 30, although it may occur at any age
People of Caucasian and Jewish origins have a higher risk of developing IBD compared with other racial and ethnic subgroups
Hear from actual patients  with moderately to severely active Crohn’s who didn’t respond well to other therapies and were treated with REMICADE®.
Individual results may vary.
The most common symptoms of Crohn’s include:
- Abdominal pain
- Rectal bleeding
- Frequent diarrhea
Other symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Fistulas are another symptom to be aware of. Fistulas occur when the inflammation and ulcers caused by Crohn’s break through the intestinal wall and form an abscess (or a tunnel) outside of it.
How is Crohn’s diagnosed?
Although there is no cure for Crohn’s, the sooner Crohn’s is diagnosed, the sooner you may be able to gain control of your symptoms and possibly induce remission.
To confirm a diagnosis—and to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms—your physician will probably perform a complete physical exam and order medical tests. There is no single test that can confirm the diagnosis of Crohn’s.
Diagnostic tests may include:
- Blood tests: These tests can provide your gastroenterologist with information that will help assess your overall condition
Examinations: These exams help your gastroenterologist see inside your body to determine whether you have Crohn’s. Different types of tests include:
- Barium enema: This test helps gastroenterologists examine the colon and the rectum
- Upper GI and small bowel follow-through: In this test, X-rays help doctors examine the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, and small intestine
- Enteroclysis: This test is used to reveal abnormalities in the small intestine
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan: This detailed scan is used to detect abnormalities
- Ultrasound: By using sound waves, this test examines organs of the pelvis and abdomen without exposure to radiation and is often used in combination with other radiologic tests
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): By using radio waves and superconducting magnets, this test can help detect fistulas and abscesses
- Stool tests: These noninvasive tests examine stool samples to determine the possibility of bacterial, viral, or parasitic causes of diarrhea
- Urine tests: Also called urinalysis, these tests are used to detect the presence of bacteria, red blood cells, and white blood cells in your urine
- Endoscopic examinations: These tests use a tool called an endoscope to get a detailed view of the intestinal tract. Different endoscopic exams may include: sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and upper endoscopy
It's important to discuss all your symptoms with your doctor to determine the appropriate tests.
Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis (UC) are classified as types of IBD, a term used to describe inflammatory conditions affecting the digestive (or gastrointestinal [GI]) tract.
While Crohn’s and UC are both IBDs and have similar symptoms, there are a few distinct differences between the 2 conditions:
REMICADE® can lower your ability to fight infections. Serious and sometimes fatal events can occur. There have been reports of serious infections including tuberculosis (TB) and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses that have spread throughout the body. Lymphoma, including a fatal kind called hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma, and other cancers have been reported in children and adults taking REMICADE®. Some people with heart failure should not take REMICADE®. Other serious side effects reported include skin cancer, hepatitis B, liver injury, blood problems, allergic reactions, nervous system problems, or lupus-like syndrome. To learn more about these and other risks, please read the Important Safety Information and the Medication Guide , and talk with your doctor.