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Crohn's disease - Kids & Teens

Treatment plan for Crohn’s disease


How may Crohn’s disease affect me?

Crohn’s disease is a long-term (chronic) disease that causes soreness and swelling (inflammation) of the digestive tract. The symptoms come and go in bouts known as flares.


Crohn’s disease belongs to a group of illnesses called inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. Ulcerative colitis is another type of IBD which affects the colon (large intestine) and rectum.


The inflammation (swelling, redness and sores) from Crohn’s disease can happen anywhere along the digestive tract, from mouth to anus (bottom), although it usually affects the walls of the large intestine (colon) or the small intestine, or both. Many people with Crohn’s disease feel pain and tenderness in the belly, especially the lower right side, and have runny poo (diarrhoea). Sometimes the poo can be very hard (constipation). Some people also have weight loss, bloody poo, fever, anaemia (low levels of red blood cells in the blood, which can make you feel faint, weak or breathless). It may also make you feel very tired. Children with Crohn’s disease may not grow or develop as a normal child would.



This picture shows your digestive system and the parts of your body that can be affected by Crohn’s disease. Colour it in and ask your doctor to circle the parts of your digestive system that are affected. Click here to print the picture.



Some people with Crohn’s disease have even more problems, such as scarring and thickening of the intestine walls. This can create a narrowing of the intestine wall, which is called a stricture, leading to constipation, bloating and pain. The intestine walls may become fully blocked (called an obstruction), which can cause severe pain and vomiting that must be treated in the hospital. Another possible problem is a fistula, or tunnel caused by infection that goes from one part of the intestine to another or to the skin. Some people can have trouble getting enough nutrients in their diet if the body is unable to use (absorb) proteins, vitamins or minerals the way they should. Crohn’s disease may also stop the body from using calcium and vitamin D, which can lead to bone becoming thinner (called osteoporosis). If you have any of these problems, you may need to take medicine for it as well as for your Crohn’s disease.


Crohn’s disease can also be related to problems in other parts of the body, such joints, eyes, mouth, liver, skin, blood or kidneys. Some of these problems may get better when your Crohn’s disease gets better, but sometimes you will need to take other medicine as well.


In mild disease, a lot of these symptoms (such as blockages, obstructions or having a fistula) won’t have occurred, so don’t worry about them!



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