Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory autoimmune bowel disease characterized by severe and persistent inflammation of the lining or wall of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s is sometimes referred to as chronic ileitis, regional enteritis, or granulomatous colitis. The part of the gastrointestinal tract most commonly affected is the segment between the ileum and the rectum. Although Crohn’s disease can be difficult to manage and live with, it is usually not life threatening.
Crohn’s can affect anyone, although persons of Jewish descent are afflicted three to six times more frequently than others. The disease usually involves young adults between the ages of 15-35, but it can be seen in children and the elderly. Males and females are equally affected. There is a genetic predisposition to develop the disease, and up to 25% of persons with the disease are likely to have a close relative with either Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. WHile an auto-reactive antibody hasn’t yet been found in Crohn’s, it is generally accepted that autoimmunity is the underlying cause.