What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) where parts of the intestinal tract become irritated or inflamed. Crohn’s most often affects the small intestine, but can affect any part of the digestive tract, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, duodenum, appendix, colon or anus.


The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are fevers and diarrhea that may or may not contain blood. Other symptoms may include:

  • abdominal pain
  • fatigue
  • joint pain
  • rashes
  • blood in the stools or black stools
  • rectal bleeding (although often associated with ulcerative colitis)


To diagnose IBD, your child may need to have one or more of the following tests:

  • blood tests
  • stool tests
  • imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • endoscopy, which uses a thin, lighted tube to “see” inside the intestines


Most children with Crohn’s disease are treated with a combination of diet changes and medication. Some children with severe symptoms may need surgery.

Learn more about Pediatric Gastroenterology services at Boston Children’s Health Physicians.

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