NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract and bowels.

According to Dr. Stephanie Hockett, ARPN, CNP, at Essentia Health, it usually hangs out in the small intestine. Crohn’s can affect the entire tract, or it can skip areas.

It happens to both males and females from ages 15-25, but there is usually another surge during the fifth through seventh decade. There are environmental triggers such as if other family members have it or smoking.

Hockett said that the most common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and sometimes a fever.

It’s diagnosed mainly through a colonoscopy and imaging. Sometimes there will be a stool test to test for inflammation. When someone is first diagnosed, treatment begins with steroids to calm the symptoms, then they begin biological medications like Stelara, Skyrizi, or Humira.

“Flare-ups happen in general, but stress can be a trigger or an infection like a cold,” Hockett said.

A misconception about Crohn’s Disease is that it can be treated through diet. Diets, or eating healthy, is not a bad thing, it’s just not a preventative or treatment measure.

“We have better medications and more options, so the need for surgery is being eliminated,” said Hockett.