Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disorder of the digestive tract, typically in the lower part of the small intestine. The swelling penetrates into the intestinal lining, and the irritation causes pain and diarrhea.

Conditions like ulcerative colitis have inflammation and ulcers limited to the top layer of the colon. In Crohn’s disease, all layers may be affected.

The cause of this disorder is unknown but a well-accepted theory is that it is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune cells mistake bacteria, foods and lining cells as being foreign invaders and attack them, causing extensive inflammation.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Possible fever
  • Possible skin problems
  • Possible arthritis
  • Bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Delayed development and stunted growth in children

The most common complication of Crohn’s disease is an intestinal blockage caused by swelling and scar tissue. Nutritional deficiencies are also common.