Definition

An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Inflammation is generally found in the last section of the small intestine and the entirety of the large intestine (colon).

Also Known As

Causes

The exact cause of Crohn’s Disease is unknown. The disease may be due to an auto-immune reaction

Statistics

  • Crohn’s disease may affect as many as 780,000 Americans.
  • As many as 1 in 5 people with Crohn’s disease has a family member with the disease.

Risk Factors

  • Age. Crohn’s Disease is usually diagnosed in adults between the ages of 15 – 35.
  • Ethnicity. Caucasians and those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have the highest risk of developing Crohn’s Disease.
  • Family History
  • Cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking is the most important controllable risk factor for developing Crohn’s disease. Smoking also leads to more-severe disease and a greater risk of having surgery.
  • Geography. If you live in an urban area or in an industrialized country, you’re more likely to develop Crohn’s disease.

Prevention

There is no known prevention for Crohn’s Disease, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of a flare-up, manage symptoms, and reduce discomfort.

  • Diet. Avoid foods that increase discomfort (different for everyone, but most commonly include carbohydrates, dairy products, high- and low-fiber foods). Talk to a doctor about the elimination diet (remove all but a few foods from the diet, then slowly add them back one at a time to determine what is causing symptoms).
  • Increase water intake.
  • Decrease caffeine and alcohol intake.
  • Talk to a doctor about taking nutrition supplements.
  • Manage stress.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking is the number-one preventable risk factor for Crohn’s disease.

Vaccines

The CDC recommends that all adults keep their vaccinations up to date. Childhood immunizations may wear off after time and need a “booster shot,” and you are at risk for other diseases as an adult.

All adults need:

  • Influenza – recommended every year, age 6 months and older
  • Tdap – (if an adult did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

Additionally, the CDC recommends the following vaccines for adults suffering from some types of GI disorder (talk to your doctor about which vaccines are right for you):

COVID-19 and Crohn’s Disease

Check out the IBD Guidance from the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation.

Resources

Support Groups