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Crohn’s disease is named for Burrill Crohn, the gastroenterologist who first described it in 1932. Crohn’s disease is a recurring inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, similar to ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease most commonly occurs in the ileum (the lower part of the small intestine) and the colon (large intestine), but it can occur anywhere in the GI tract from the mouth to anus.
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease vary greatly from person to person. Some individuals will experience only mild symptoms while others may have severe symptoms or complications. Some symptoms may include:
In mild forms, Crohn’s disease causes small erosions, called ulcers, along the GI tract. In more severe cases, deeper and larger ulcers form. These larger ulcers can stiffen in the bowels and cause obstruction (called strictures), or puncture the bowel walls, causing infection in the abdominal cavity and adjacent organs (called fistula).
Also, in more severe cases, this condition can involve other organs in the body, most commonly the joints (i.e. knees, ankles and wrists), the liver and the skin. The same type of inflammation that is seen in the GI tract can be observed in these other organs.
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