2016-06-24 14:08:47 UTC

IBD 108: Complications with Crohn's Disease

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Things to Be Aware Of


Taking your medicine and staying well hydrated and nourished can help keep Crohn’s disease under control. Sometimes, though, complications can happen. Often, with Crohn’s disease, these issues will need medical attention. 


Bowel Blockage


  • A block or a stricture (when the bowel is very narrow in one spot) can happen. Crohn’s disease can thicken the bowel wall with swelling or scar tissue, causing the block or stricture. 
  • A block can stop food or stool from passing through the bowel as it is supposed to.
  • A block can sometimes be treated with medicine, but often needs surgery.




  • A fistula is a link (or tunnel) between two body parts that should not be there, such as between two organs. They can form from infection, inflammation or surgery. 
  • Fistulas often form near the anus and rectum in patients with Crohn’s disease.
  • Fistulas can heal with medicine or changes in diet, but some may need surgery.




  • If Crohn’s disease is not under control, it can stop the body from getting the vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs.
  • This can be treated with IV fluids or feeding tubes to help patients get the nutrition they need while they work with their doctors to get the disease under control.


Inflammation in the Body


  • Inflammation from Crohn’s disease is often found in the bowel or along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but sometimes the immune system causes inflammation in other places like:
    • Joints.
    • Eyes.
    • Skin.
  • Medicine to help with pain and to help get inflammation under control are used to treat this.




  • Ulcers are open sores.
  • Ulcers can form from inflammation anywhere on the GI tract:
    • Mouth.
    • Bowels.
    • Anus.
    • Perineum (place between the anus and the sex organs).
  • Medicines for Crohn’s disease often treat ulcers, as well.


Anal Fissures


  • Anal fissures are small tears or cuts found in the anus.
  • They may cause itching, pain or bleeding.
  • Often, fissures get better with medicine, ointments, warm baths and changes in diet.

If you think you are having one of these complications of Crohn’s disease, let your doctor know right away.


© AGA, September 2017

©AGA, July 2016

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