Crohn's disease


What is Crohn's disease?

Crohn’s disease is a long term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system .Inflammation can happen and affect any part of your digestive system from the mouth to the back passage, but it is mostly occurs in the last section of the small intestine called the ileum or in the colon which is the large intestine.NHS Choices.(2013).

Why do I have Crohn' disease ?

The main cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown . Researchers believe that it is caused by a combination of factors. These are :

  • genetics

  • the immune system

  • previous infections

  • environmental factors

  • and smoking

Signs & Symptoms...

Crohn’s disease symptoms vary depending on which part of your digestive system is inflamed.

Most common symptoms include:

  • extreme tiredness

  • abdominal pain and cramping ,which may be worse after eating

  • unintended weight loss

  • recurring diarrhoea

  • blood and mucus in your faeces

Crohn’s disease symptoms vary depending on which part of your digestive system is inflamed.

Less common symptoms include:

  • feeling sick (nausea)

  • being sick (vomiting)

  • inflammation and irritation of the eyes (uveitis)

  • mouth ulcers

  • a high temperature (fever ) or 38°C (100°F) or above

  • joint pains and swelling (arthritis )

  • areas of painful,red and swollen skin-most often the legs.

NHS choices.(2013).

Diagnosing crohn's disease

There are a number of different tests that may be needed with diagnosing you with crohn’s disease .There are no simple ways to diagnose Crohn’s and because of this it can take a long time to finally get a diagnosis.

The number of tests that can be used are:

  • Initial assessment - which is where your doctor or GP will ask you about your symptom patterns to see if there may be any contributing causes such as : your diet,if your taking any medication,recently traveled ,for example developed travellers’ diarrhoea whilst travelling abroad ,also whether you have a family history of Crohn’s disease .

Other tests may include :

  • standard tests-checking pulse,blood pressure,measuring weight and height ,examining your abdomen and measuring temperature

  • blood tests- the levels of inflammation in your body,whether you have an infection ,whether you are anaemic (have low levels of red blood cells), which could suggest you are malnourished.

  • stool samples - to check for blood and mucus

  • colonoscopy -used to examine the inside of your colon

  • MRE and CTE scans-During an MRE scan, magnetic fields and radio waves are used to produce detailed images of your small intestines. During CTE scans, several X-rays are taken and assembled by computer to create a detailed image.

NHS choices .( 2013. )

Problems with diagnosing crohn's disease

It takes a lot of tests and time to find a diagnoses

there are other conditions with similar symptoms such as :

Initially doctors may confuse symptoms of Crohn's disease with lactose intolerance ,upset stomach or irritable bowel syndrome, which are much more common than Crohn's. This can really delay a diagnosis as time is normally given to see if the symptoms go away or get worse before further investigations will take place. Also Crohn's disease symptoms can come and go which makes it difficult to diagnose.

Another difficulty when diagnosing crohn’s is figuring out where the symptoms are coming from ,for example , If it comes from the upper part of the abdomen then you would need a gastroscopy ;this is where a thin telescope is passed down the oesophagus into the stomach .

If your symptoms are coming from the colon then a different procedure would need to be done ,this would be a colonoscope ;this is passed through the anus up to the colon .

Another serious condition which presents itself very similar to crohns is tuberculosis ;which is inside the abdomen and this can only be ruled out by an operation .

When must I SEEK MEDICAL advice?

It is important that you contact your GP if you have any of the following symptoms and signs:

  • unexplained weight loss

  • persistent diarrhoea

  • persistent pains in your abdominal area

  • blood in your faeces

Prevention by Harvard University. (2014).


NHS choices . 2014. Crohn's disease - Causes. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 October 14].

University of Maryland Medical center. 2013. Conditions with Similar Symptoms as: Crohn's Disease. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 October 14].

NHS choices . 2013. Crohn's disease - Symptoms . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 December 14].

NHS choices . 2013. Diagnosing Crohn's disease . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 December 14].

Guidelines in practice.. 2013. Support and advice is key in treating people with Crohn's disease. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 December 14]

Prevention by Harvard University. 2014. Crohn's disease.. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 December 14].