Crohn’s Disease Explained

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the rectum. It is a chronic condition, which means it can last for a lifetime.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can vary from mild to severe, and may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, and fever.

Crohn’s disease is a lifelong condition which causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system.

It can also affect other parts of the digestive system, such as the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, and the upper part of the small intestine (the small bowel), as well as the colon.

Treatment for Crohn’s disease typically involves a combination of medication and lifestyle changes.

Crohn’s disease can affect anyone, but it’s more common in people between 15 and 35 years of age.

We will discuss everything around Crohn’s disease and the ways in managing your symptoms to live a good and happy life.

What Are the Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?

The symptoms of Crohn’s can vary from person to person and may come and go. The type and severity of symptoms can also change over time.

Some people with Crohn’s disease experience mouth sores, skin rashes, eye problems and joint pain.  

The abdominal symptoms can include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Cramping
  • Bloody stool
  • Mouth sores
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Anal fissures
  • Fistulas
  • Abnormal skin tags

The inflammation can also affect other parts of the body and cause symptoms outside of the digestive tract.



Types of Crohn’s Diseases

Ileocolitis is a form of colitis, or inflammation of the large intestine, that specifically affects the ileum, or the lower part of the small intestine, as well as the colon, but can be quite serious, causing severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss. Treatment typically involves a combination of medication and lifestyle changes, and in some cases, surgery may be necessary.


Ileitis is a condition that results when the ileum, the last section of the small intestine, becomes inflamed. Symptoms of ileitis include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss. Ileitis can be a serious condition.  Treatment for ileitis may include medication, surgery, or lifestyle changes.


The gastroduodenal junction is where the stomach meets the small intestine. The stomach acid and digestive enzymes that are secreted here help to break down food so that the nutrients can be absorbed into the bloodstream. The gastroduodenal junction is also known as the pyloric valve and is responsible for regulating the flow of food from the stomach to the small intestine. Upper GI Crohn’s Disease is quite rare.


Jejunoileitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the small intestine. The symptoms of jejunoileitis include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition.
Jejunoileitis can be a debilitating and life-threatening condition, especially if it goes untreated. Treatment for jejunoileitis typically includes a combination of medication and lifestyle changes.




What Does a Life with Crohn’s Disease Look Like?


A life with Crohn’s disease can be extremely challenging. The disease can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort and can also lead to other serious health problems.

People with Crohn’s disease often have to make major changes to their diet and lifestyle in order to manage the disease. In some cases, medication and surgery may also be necessary.

While Crohn’s disease can be very difficult to deal with, many people are able to manage the condition and lead relatively normal lives.

Managing Crohn’s Disease

Stay on top of your medication
Taking your medication as prescribed can help reduce inflammation and prevent flare-ups.

Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet that agrees with your bowel can help reduce symptoms. It may help to keep a food diary as all patients are different.
Avoiding trigger foods that can worsen symptoms, such as spicy foods.

Get enough rest
Fatigue is a common symptom of Crohn’s disease.  Getting enough sleep can help your body recover from flare-ups and reduce stress.

Exercise regularly if able
Exercise can help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase energy levels. It is important to find an exercise routine that works for you and to stick with it.

Stop Smoking
Smokers have a higher risk of flares.  It is advisable for a smoker to quit smoking for better management of this disorder.

Take Supplements
Some people with Crohn’s disease may also benefit from taking supplements.

Stress Management
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that can be very stressful to deal with. There are a few things that you can do to help cope with the stress of Crohn’s disease.

First, it is important to educate yourself about the disease and its symptoms so that you can be prepared for flare-ups.

Secondly, you should develop a support system of family and friends who can help you through tough times.

Finally, it is important to find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and healthy eating.

If you can manage the stress of Crohn’s disease, you will be better able to cope with the disease itself.

There are many ways to help cope with Crohn’s disease. One way is to exercise regularly. Exercise can help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase energy levels.

It is important to find an exercise routine that works for you and to stick with it.

A low impact exercise is advised for IBD patients such as:

  • Rowing
  • Brisk walking
  • Swimming
  • Yoga

Low impact exercises don’t mean they are easy or ineffective so don’t let this discourage you from trying them.


What Treatment Options Are There?

Managing Crohn’s disease requires a comprehensive, individualized approach that includes both medical treatment and lifestyle changes.

Medical treatment for Crohn’s disease typically involves the following:

  • The use of immune-suppressing medications
  • Biologics
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs

In some cases, surgery may also be necessary to remove damaged sections of the intestine.

In addition to medical treatment, people with Crohn’s disease must also make lifestyle changes to manage their condition.

This may include the following:

  • A Special diet
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Managing stress
  • Avoiding triggers that can cause flares

While there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, with proper treatment and lifestyle management, most people with the condition can lead relatively normal, healthy lives.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing Crohn’s disease. The best way to manage your condition is to work with your healthcare team to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs.

What it Feels Like Living with Crohn’s Disease infographic



Contact an Expert

Dr George and Dr. Deetlefs are clinical investigators at Spoke Research Inc and became involved in Clinical Research in 2017, and now runs the Inflammatory Bowel Disease trials.

If you’d like to take part in a clinical trial, join us here:

Apply for Crohn’s Disease Trial

Apply for Ulcerative Colitis Trial

We are here to provide you with expert medical advice in the field of clinical research with years of experience.

Contact us to find out more on clinical trials and treatment. 

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Mediclinic Milnerton,
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Racecourse Rd, Milnerton
Cape Town


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