Crohn’s disease is one of the two major types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the other being ulcerative colitis.
Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are believed to be autoimmune diseases, where the body reacts against its own tissues.
IBD affects over 28,000 people in New Zealand and is growing.
Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 15-30 years old with a secondary spike of mainly women between the ages of 60-70 years old.
The main difference between the two conditions is that Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, ulcerative colitis affects only the large bowel and the rectum.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic (long-term) inflammatory disease and can cause inflammation in any part of the digestive system but mainly appears in the colon and small bowel. There is no cure, but treatment can ease your symptoms and help you enjoy a full, active life.
Crohn's can mimic the symptoms of bowel cancer and some reports suggest up to 15% of IBD patients go on to develop bowel cancer later in life.
Have a look at this quick 4-minute video which helps to explain Crohn's disease...