Along with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease is part of a group of diseases known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). There are five different types of Crohn’s disease, each with its own set of symptoms. Here is information about Crohn’s disease and the five types that you can use to help you discuss symptoms and treatment options with your doctor.
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic illness in which the intestine or bowel become inflamed and ulcerated, or marked with sores.
Crohn’s disease most commonly affects the lower part of the small intestine (ileum) and the colon. It can, however, occur in any part of the large intestine, small intestine, or stomach. It can affect people at any age but is most common in people who are between the ages of 15 and 30.
Crohn’s disease can disrupt the normal function of the bowel in a number of ways. The bowel tissue may:
- Swell, thicken, or form scar tissue, leading to blockage of the passageway inside the bowel
- Develop ulcers that can involve the deep layers of the bowel wall
- Lose its ability to absorb nutrients from digested foods, a condition called malabsorption
- Develop abnormal passageways known as fistulas from one part of the bowel to another part of the bowel, or from the bowel to nearby tissues such as the bladder or vagina
What are the five types of Crohn’s disease?
The five types of Crohn’s disease and their symptoms are:
- Ileocolitis: Ileocolitis is the most common type of Crohn’s disease. It affects the small intestine, known as the ileum, and the colon. People who have ileocolitis experience considerable weight loss, diarrhea, and cramping or pain in the middle or lower right part of the abdomen.
- Ileitis: This type of Crohn’s disease affects the ileum. Symptoms are the same as those for ileocolitis. In addition, fistulas, or inflammatory abscesses, may form in the lower right section of the abdomen.
- Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease: This form of Crohn’s disease involves the stomach and duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine. People with this type of Crohn’s disease suffer nausea, weight loss, and loss of appetite. In addition, if the narrow segments of bowel are obstructed, they experience vomiting.
- Jejunoileitis: This form of the disease affects the jejunum, which is the upper half of the small intestine. It causes areas of inflammation. Symptoms include cramps after meals, the formation of fistulas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain that can become intense.
- Crohn’s (granulomatous) colitis: This form of Crohn’s disease involves only the colon. Symptoms include skin lesions, joint pains, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and the formation of ulcers, fistulas, and abscesses around the anus.
There can be overlap between these types of Crohn’s disease. Some people have more than one area of the digestive tract that is affected.