7 Things to Help Your Patients Unlearn About Crohn’s Disease

Burrill B. Crohn and his colleagues first described Crohn’s disease in 1932. However, the disease has not always been perfectly understood, even in the medical fraternity.

Continuous scientific studies have led to advancements in understanding the potential causes and developing effective treatment options; however, a cure for Crohn’s disease has not yet been found.

As a dedicated physician, you are tasked with helping your patients separate facts from fiction.

Here 7 things you should be helping your patients unlearn regarding Crohn’s disease.

1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease are the Same

The truth is that Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease affecting any part of the gastrointestinal tract, while IBS is a functional disorder affecting the large intestine with no observable inflammation. As such, patients suffering from either of them are likely to experience persistent diarrhea.

However, the similarities between the two conditions stop there. IBS does not cause swelling in the gastrointestinal tract, but Crohn’s disease does.

Treatment of the two is different as well so anyone who suspects that they are suffering from either of the two conditions should visit a doctor to get the right diagnosis and suitable treatment.

2. Some Personality Traits Put You at Risk of Crohn’s Disease

It was previously speculated that stress and personality factors could be causes of Crohn’s disease. Still, current understanding attributes the disease to a combination of genetic, environmental, and immunological factors, not personality traits. This is simply untrue.

Therefore, if a patient suffers from depression or anxiety, you want to assure them that it is not the cause of their Crohn’s disease diagnosis.

Although the cause of the disease is still unknown, microbiology, immunology, and genetics research has helped apply effective treatment.

3. Crohn’s Disease is Caused by Bad Eating Habits

While diet and nutrition can affect symptoms and management of Crohn’s disease, there is no direct evidence that poor diet alone causes Crohn’s disease. At least, there is no evidence to support that claim.

That said, most patients will realize that certain foods worsen their symptoms. You, therefore, want to encourage your patients to keep a food diary so that it can be easier to establish what foods worsen the disease.

4. There is no Relationship Between Crohn’s Disease and Smoking

Smoking is not a direct cause of Crohn’s disease, but it is a risk factor that can worsen the disease’s course and increase the need for surgery in affected individuals.

Patients with Crohn’s disease may notice that smoking worsens the symptoms and causes flare-ups.  Most people with the disease may have to undergo surgery, but those who smoke are likely to need more than one surgical procedure.

Let your patients know that smoking is highly discouraged as long as they have the disease and if they find it hard to quit, you may go a step further in helping them seek help and support with the same.

5. Nothing Can be Done About the Symptoms

Crohn’s disease comes with some embarrassing symptoms such as constant diarrhea and the best thing any patient can do is to consult with their physician so that they can get on an effective treatment plan.

As a doctor, you are in the best position to share tips for managing the disease, as you have helped many other patients suffering from the same.

You can encourage them to plan time away from their homes by identifying restrooms they can use and carrying extra wet wipes and underwear.

6. Crohn’s Disease Seldom Affects Kids

It would be great if such a claim was true but unfortunately, that is not the case. Crohn’s disease can affect individuals of any age, including children and teenagers, with a significant number of cases diagnosed before the age of 18.

In fact, about 20% of adults suffering from the disease were diagnosed as kids and they most likely developed complications that delayed puberty or stunted their growth.

7. Depression Caused by the Disease Should be Disregarded

As a physician, you understand that living with a chronic condition such as Crohn’s disease is not just about the physical. It affects mental health as well.

Just living and dealing with the symptoms of the disease can cause depression, which should also be addressed. It gets harder for those who had depression before being diagnosed.

Patients should not be forced to disregard feelings of depression that Crohn’s disease may bring about. Encourage your patients to share their feelings, talk to a therapist, and join a support group.


For you to have an easier time treating Crohn’s disease patients, you want to ensure that they have the facts right. By debunking the aforementioned common myths about the disease, that should be easy to do.

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Current Version
January 9, 2022
Written By
Shubham Grover
March 29, 2024
Updated By
Daniyal Haider, MD

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