Nearly 1.5 million Americans currently suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with an estimated 30,000 new diagnoses each year. Many people don’t realize that IBD is a collection of chronic conditions \u2014 which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. While Crohn’s Disease is accompanied by a variety of symptoms, each case of Crohn’s disease differs from person to person. Some may have certain symptoms while others will not. Similarly, different foods may trigger a flare-up of Crohn’s disease. Each person should understand their “trigger foods” to learn how to cope with their illness and prevent flare-ups.\nWhat is Crohn’s Disease?\nCrohn’s disease is a severe, chronic inflammatory bowel disease that can cause inflammation, ulcers, and bleeding in the digestive tract. While Crohn’s disease often affects the end portion of the small intestine called the ileum, it can also affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus.\nThe cause of this disease is not known, but like other inflammatory bowel diseases, it seems to run in families.\nSome research links Crohn’s disease to an overactive and inappropriate immune response to the bacteria that normally reside in the intestine, causing damage to the intestines.\nSymptoms of Crohn’s Disease\nCommon symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:\n\nDiarrhea\nAbdominal cramps and pain\nRectal bleeding\nAnemia\nWeight loss\nFatigue, weakness\nNausea\nFever\nMouth sores\nSkin rash\nJoint pains\nAbscesses in the abdomen and perianal area\n\nDiagnosing Crohn’s\nTo diagnose Crohn’s Disease, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.\nTests may include:\n\nBlood tests\nStool examination\nComputed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to identify abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract or internal organs\nColonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy to examine the lining of the colon and the small intestine\nUpper endoscopy\/enteroscopy to examine the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine\nBiopsy to test a small (2-4 mm) sample of the gastrointestinal lining\n\nTreatment Options for Crohn’s Disease\nMedicines for treating Crohn’s disease\nMany types of medicines are available for treatment, such as:\n\nAminosalicylate medicines\nAntibiotics\/ probiotics\nCorticosteroids\nImmunomodulators\nTNF-inhibitors\nOther biologic treatments\n\nDietary changes\nYour doctor may recommend that you avoid foods that provoke symptoms.\nThese foods are different for each person, but may include:\n\nDairy foods (due to lactose intolerance)\nHighly seasoned foods\nHigh fiber foods\n\nSurgery for Crohn’s\nVery severe Crohn’s Disease may not improve with medicines, and can cause complications, such as:\n\nA stricture\nAn obstruction\nFistulas, which are abnormal connections between the intestine and other organs or tissues, such as the bladder, vagina, or skin\n\nIn these cases, surgery may be an option. The surgeon will remove the diseased section of your intestine and join the two remaining healthier ends together.\nLeading-edge therapy\nGroundbreaking research from the UPMC Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, part of the UPMC Digestive Disorders Center, has found that treating people with very efficient and specific medicine following bowel resection can keep Crohn’s Disease from recurring.\nFor more information about Crohn’s Disease, visit the UPMC Digestive Disorders Center online or call 1-866-4GASTRO (442-7876) to schedule an appointment.