Mount Sinai has been at the forefront of research and treatment of Crohn’s disease. In fact, Crohn’s disease was named for the Mount Sinai physician Burrill B. Crohn, MD, after he and his colleagues first described the condition in 1932. In recent years, Mount Sinai physicians and scientists have developed new breakthrough drug therapies to help patient manage their disease.
Crohn’s disease, which is a kind of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), leads to inflammation anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus. However, it most commonly impacts the final segment of the small intestine (the ileum) and the beginning of the large intestine (right colon). Crohn’s disease can also affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall and can be patchy with alternating areas of diseased and normal intestine.
Crohn’s disease can cause a variety of symptoms—including chronic diarrhea that may or may not go into periods of remission, mild to severe abdominal pain, fatigue, and malnutrition— and can have a major impact on quality of life.
Below are some symptoms:
- Persistent diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Urgent need to move bowels
- Abdominal pain
- Weight Loss
- Loss of normal menstrual cycle
- Delayed growth in children
It was previously thought that IBD patients experience periodic flares that could be treated to eliminate inflammation and return the gastrointestinal system to a normal state. However, we now understand that Crohn’s is a progressive disease. Over time, inflammation can cause irreversible damage to the intestines, culminating in structural and functional complications such as strictures (narrowing of the bowel), surgery (bowel resections), abscesses, fistulas (abnormal connections between the bowel and other parts of the body), and malnutrition.
While the cause is still unknown, it involves the interplay of genetic predisposition, an abnormal immune system response, and environmental factors.
Please note: only proper testing performed by your doctor can diagnose Crohn’s disease.