Crohn's disease

Synonyms: Regional enteritis, Inflammatory bowel disease

Medical Specialties: Allergy/immunology, Gastroenterology, Medical genetics

Clinical Definition

Crohn’s disease is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract most often in the ileum and large intestine. Inflammation can lead to abscesses and ulcers, and chronic symptoms may result in fibrosis, stenosis and bowel obstruction.

In Our Own Words

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory gastrointestinal disease of unknown cause that affects the bowels. Most commonly, people with Crohn’s disease are affected with diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and fever. Inflammation and ulcers are most common at the end of the small intestine (ileum) and in the large intestine, but can occur in other areas.


Crohn’s disease has similarities to ulcerative colitis, and both diseases are considered inflammatory bowel diseases, but the two entities are distinct with different patterns of involvement. Genetics and the environment have been linked to this condition. In addition to affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, Crohn’s also causes joint pain and fatigue. Patients may experience periodic remissions.

Relevant Conditions
  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune disease
Common Types
  • Ileocolitis
  • Jejunoileitis
  • Crohn’s granulomatous colitis
Side Effects
  • Abdominal pain, often in lower right quadrant
  • Diarrhea with or without bleeding
  • Fistulas
  • Weight loss
Share this article
  • Cleveland Clinic. “Crohn’s Disease.” Aug. 23, 2012. Accessed July 2013.
  • Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. “What is Crohn’s Disease?” Accessed July 2013.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Inflammatory Bowel Disease.” May 1, 2012. Accessed July 2013.
  • Merck Manual. “Crohn Disease.” Dec. 2012. Accessed July 2013.
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