Crohn's Disease



It is not clear what causes Crohn disease. Genes, the environment, and problems with the immune system may all play a role.

Risk Factors

The risk of Crohn disease is higher in those with:

  • Family members with Crohn
  • Tobacco use disorder
  • Low activity levels
  • Stress-related disorders
  • Regular use of medicine, such as antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Infections of digestive system, such as salmonella or campylobacter gastroenteritis



Flare ups of Crohn disease may cause:

  • Loose stools (poop)
  • Belly cramps and pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness and lack of energy
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Mouth sores
  • Sores in the anal area


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Blood and stool tests will be done to look for problems and rule out other issues. Scopes can be done to look for areas of inflammation. This can be done with:

  • Upper endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy

A small sample of intestine may be removed with a scope for biopsy. The sample will be sent to a lab for testing.

Special dyes may also be used to help highlight the intestines in other image tests such as:

  • Upper gastrointestinal series
  • Lower gastrointestinal series
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan



There is no cure. Flare up treatment will manage symptoms and try to prevent other problems from starting. Treatment may also be used during remission to prevent flare ups. The treatment plan can vary. Some step may include:

  • Medicines to help:
    • Reduce inflammation—may be short term for flare ups
    • Lower immune system response—may be long term medicines to help prevent flare ups
    • Manage pain, diarrhea or nausea
  • Bowel rest for severe bout of inflammation—no food, only drinking nutritious drinks until improved.
  • Nutrition support—vitamins or supplements to improve nutrition during flare up.
  • Surgery—to removed damaged areas, improve severe symptoms, or treat complications of Crohn.

Other treatment may be needed to treat other problems caused by Crohn.


There are no known methods to prevent Crohn disease.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.