Crohn's disease is part of a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs).
There are five main types of Crohn's disease, each with its own set of symptoms. Doctors define each type by the location of inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract (GI tract):
- Ileocolitis: Inflames the end of the small intestine (ileum) and a portion of the large intestine (colon)
- Ileitis: Inflames the last section of the small intestine (ileum)
- Gastroduodenal Crohn’s: Inflames the stomach and the start of the small intestine (duodenum)
- Jejunoileitis: Inflames the middle part of the small intestine (jejunum)
- Crohn's (granulomatous) colitis: Inflames only the colon
This is the most common type of Crohn's disease. It affects the last section of the small intestine, known as the ileum, and the colon.
Symptoms: You might have:
This type of Crohn's disease just affects the ileum.
- Considerable weight loss
- Pain in the middle or lower right part of your abdomen
- Fistulas, or inflammatory abscesses, may form in the lower right section of your abdomen.
Gastroduodenal Crohn's Disease
This form affects the stomach and duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine.
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting (if narrow segments of bowel are obstructed)
This type of the disease causes areas of inflammation in the jejunum, which is the middle part of your small intestine.
- Cramps after meals
- Abdominal pain that can become intense.
Crohn's (Granulomatous) Colitis
This form of Crohn's disease affects only the colon.
- Skin lesions
- Joint pain
- Rectal bleeding
- Ulcers, fistulas, and abscesses around the anus
There can be overlap between these types of Crohn's disease. Sometimes, more than one area of your digestive tract is affected.
The disease can be further divided by phenotypes, or physical traits, as it gets worse. For Crohn’s, these are based on:
- Your age when you were diagnosed:
- Young adult
- The affected body part:
- Terminal ileum
- Upper gastrointestinal tract
- How the disease behaves:
- Stricturing: The disease causes swelling and scarring on the walls of your intestine. This makes the walls thicker and can form strictures, or narrowed areas, that lead to blockages.
- Penetrating: Crohn’s causes fistulas, perianal ulcers, inflammatory masses, or abscesses.
What Can I do to Manage Crohn's Disease?
It is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, even when your disease goes into remission for long periods of time. You should:
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Avoid smoking.
Follow your doctor’s instructions and take all medications as advised.