Own You IBD - School Support - Thriving with Crohn's disease

About Crohn’s disease

More than 75,000 Aussies and 5 million people worldwide have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).1 There are two main types of IBD: Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Both of these conditions cause visible damage to the gut.2 These diseases are not contagious.

IBD is not the same as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which may have similar symptoms but doesn’t cause visible damage to the gut or changes in blood tests.2

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No one is 100% sure exactly what causes CD.

The medical community believe that CD is caused by an overactive immune response in the gut, which leads to inflammation and ulceration.3 There is no way of telling who will get CD, but people who have a history of CD in their family are more likely to develop the condition.3

Crohn’s disease is a disease of young people.

Most people with CD are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35 years, although it can occur at any age.1,2 It is a chronic condition, so it’s something that people have to live with throughout their entire lives.

CD can involve any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus. It commonly affects the small intestine and/or the large intestine.2

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Common symptoms of CD can include:2

In some people, CD also causes complications outside of the GI tract, such as skin rashes, arthritis and inflammation of the eye.2

While there is no cure, medical treatments can help manage CD.

There are a number of treatment options available for CD depending on the extent and severity of the disease. These may include changes in diet, medication that can be given as tablets, enemas, injections or intravenous infusion, and surgery.4 Some of the treatments for CD have to be administered by a healthcare professional in a clinic, which may mean a young person taking time out from school to receive treatment. Other treatments can be self-administered but they may require special storage conditions. Any medication can cause side effects that have the potential to impact a young person’s ability to engage with school activities, including classes, sports and social events.

Being aware of what type of treatment young people with CD are on and how it might affect them can help you offer relevant support.