Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines.
It primarily causes ulcerations (breaks in the lining) of the small and large intestines, but can affect the digestive system anywhere from the mouth to the anus.
It is named after the physician who described the disease in 1932. It also is called granulomatous enteritis or colitis, regional enteritis, ileitis, or terminal ileitis.
Crohn's disease is related closely to another chronic inflammatory condition that involves only the colon called ulcerative colitis. Together, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are frequently referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease have no medical cure. Once the diseases begin, they tend to fluctuate between periods of inactivity (remission) and activity (relapse). They affect approximately 500,000 to 2 million people in the United States. Men and women are equally affected.
IBD most commonly begins during adolescence and early adulthood, but it also can begin during childhood and later in life.
Crohn's disease tends to be more common in relatives of patients with Crohn's disease. It also is more common among relatives of patients with ulcerative colitis.