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Pediatric Gastroenterology - Crohn's Disease

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Crohn's disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), often found in the intestines, that causes swelling and irritation of the digestive tract. 

Symptoms can vary but the most commonly include abdominal pain or bloating, diarrhea, increased stool output or urgency, weight loss, joint swelling, and fever. 

While this disease has no cure, Marshfield Clinic specialists can recommend treatments to ease symptoms allowing kids to live a full, active life.


Marshfield Clinic offers a number of treatment options our physicians will discuss with you and your child. They may include medications, lifestyle changes, surgery, or a combination of these.

Certain medications can help your symptoms. These may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication (called 5-ASA compounds) can help to reduce intestinal swelling and discomfort over longer periods of time.
  • Corticosteroids to help reduce inflammation (swelling, irritation) and are often used for short periods only.
  • Antibiotics fight the bacteria that can lead to infections in some cases of Crohn's disease. Some patients may get sores in the digestive tract that can lead to an infection. In some cases, antibiotics also help reduce inflammation.
  • Immunosuppressives treat the part of your body that fights disease (the immune system). By treating the immune system, inflammation may be reduced. Immunosuppressives can be taken for long periods. But you may need to see your doctor more often than usual for monitoring.
  • Biologics are an antibodies (virus fighting agents) that rid the body of the major inflammatory chemicals causing inflammation and ulceration.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Certain foods can worsen symptoms. You may need to change what you eat and keep track of foods that cause problems. These foods vary from person to person but high-fiber foods (such as fresh vegetables) and high-fat foods (such as dairy products and red meat) cause symptoms in many people.
  • To a lesser degree, stress also can worsen symptoms. Reducing stress may help. Techniques like relaxation exercises, meditation, and deep breathing can help you control stress. A Marshfield Clinic physician will be able to tell you more about these.

Surgery may help control Crohn's by relieving digestive tract symptoms. Surgery can remove a severely affected part of the digestive tract. If this is an option for you, a Marshfield Clinic specialist can give you more information.

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What Do You Know About the Digestive System?

What happens to that cheeseburger and fries (or, we hope, that whole wheat bread and green salad) you had for lunch? During the digestive process, food is converted into energy that's used by your body. Take this quiz to see how much you know about how digestion works.

1. How does food move through your digestive tract?
2. Where does most of the digestive process take place?
3. What does the liver do to help digestion?
4. Which of these can harm the intestinal lining?
5. Which of these best maintains intestinal health?
6. Which of these can cause heartburn?
7. Which of these causes ulcers?
8. Food poisoning is caused by eating contaminated food. How can it be prevented?
9. How does age affect digestion?