Crohn’s Disease

What Is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The condition most commonly affects the terminal ileum (the end of the small bowel), and the colon. Crohn’s disease can appear in patches, where one part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is affected and not another.

Crohn’s Disease Symptoms

Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GI tract. Symptoms can vary from child to child, but many may experience:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in the stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • Weight loss

Less common symptoms can include:

  • Skin rashes
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fevers

Children may have poor height and weight gain before other symptoms appear. Symptoms can be mild at first, which may keep a child from seeing their pediatrician. Crohn’s disease is chronic and marked by periods of symptom flares and absent symptoms (remission).

Crohn’s Disease Treatment

Crohn’s disease is different for each child, but the goal of treatment is similar: to prevent flares, promote healthy growth and heal the intestine from inflammation. The board-certified pediatric gastroenterologists with Norton Children’s Gastroenterology affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, can work with you and your family to come up with a personalized treatment plan for your child. The treatment plan may include:

  • Medications such as 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA), corticosteroids, antibiotics, immunomodulators or biologics.
  • Nutritional therapy: There is no single diet that children with Crohn’s disease should follow, but certain foods can affect the condition over others. A Norton Children’s dietitian can work with your family to provide guidance on how to eat to manage Crohn’s disease.
  • Surgery: Some children will need surgery to manage severe symptoms, including poor growth. Surgery also may be required for children who develop complications, including a narrowing or blockage of the bowel, fistulas (abnormal connections from the intestine to another part of the bowel or organ) or abscesses, which are pockets of infected fluid.

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