Crohn’s ileitis is a type of Crohn’s disease that affects only the ileum, the final part of your small intestine. Symptoms typically include cramps, diarrhea, and pain in your lower right abdomen.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and damage to your digestive tract. It’s an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) currently without a cure, making precise diagnosis and treatment critical in helping you manage symptoms and further damage.

Crohn’s disease may affect any part of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Doctors classify the type of Crohn’s disease based on the location of the inflammation and damage. Crohn’s ileitis affects the last section of your small intestine (ileum).

Read on to learn more about Crohn’s ileitis, including how the symptoms, outlook, and treatment options might differ from other types of Crohn’s disease.

Types of Crohn’s disease

Based on location, types of Crohn’s disease include:

  • Gastroduodenal: affecting the stomach and duodenum, which is the first section of your small intestine
  • Jejunoileitis: affecting only the jejunum, located in the upper part of your small intestine
  • Ileitis: affecting the ileum, at the end of your small intestine
  • Ileocolitis: affecting both the ileum and colon (large intestine)
  • Crohn’s (granulomatous) colitis: affecting only the colon
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The symptoms of Crohn’s ileitis are similar to those of all types of Crohn’s disease. Some of the most common symptoms include:

First, a doctor may ask you about your family medical history, as there may be a genetic link with Crohn’s disease. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, studies have shown that up to 28% of people with IBD have first-degree relatives with one of the subtypes of this condition.

Like all types of Crohn’s disease, diagnosing Crohn’s ileitis involves several tests. A doctor may consider a combination of the following:

Imaging tests can also help a doctor see whether you have “skip lesions” along your GI tract. Skip lesions are patches of the affected intestine in between the unaffected areas. They’re visible in all types of Crohn’s disease.

Medications are the first line of treatment for all types of Crohn’s disease, including Crohn’s ileitis. The goal is to help reduce inflammation and prevent further damage to your GI tract. Reduced inflammation also means you might experience fewer symptoms.

Medication options for Crohn’s ileitis include:

  • Aminosalicylates: These medications reduce inflammation with the help of 5-aminosalicylic acid. They may be particularly helpful for newer cases of Crohn’s.
  • Corticosteroids: These are stronger than aminosalicylates. Doctors primarily prescribe them to manage inflammation in moderate and severe Crohn’s disease.
  • Biologics: These are primarily useful for severe Crohn’s that doesn’t respond to other medications. Biologics work by targeting specific proteins in your immune system.
  • Immunomodulators: These can help with severe Crohn’s disease. Immunomodulators work by adjusting your body’s immune response, which may be causing intestinal inflammation.

If you develop fistulas from Crohn’s ileitis that don’t heal on their own or with medication, a doctor may recommend surgery to help fix them. One possible option is a small bowel resection, which involves removing a small part of the affected small intestine.

Like other types of Crohn’s disease, Crohn’s ileitis currently has no cure. Possible complications depend on the type of Crohn’s you have.

With Crohn’s ileitis, the most common complications include the development of atypical intestinal channels called fistulas and abscesses in the right side of your abdomen. Other complications that may be visible in all types of Crohn’s disease include:

  • chronic diarrhea
  • decreased appetite
  • weight loss
  • skin complications, such as rashes and sores
  • joint pain
  • eye inflammation

Also, like other types of Crohn’s disease, Crohn’s ileitis may cycle through periods of flare-ups and remission. Treatment aims to help you experience more time in remission, where symptoms may improve.

If you’ve recently received a diagnosis of Crohn’s ileitis or are concerned that you might have this chronic condition, consider discussing the following information with a doctor, as they can help determine the appropriate next steps for you.

How common is Crohn’s ileitis?

Crohn’s ileitis is one of the more common forms of Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is also the most common cause of ileitis, or inflammation of the ileum.

Is ileitis the same as ileocolitis?

While both share similar symptoms, ileitis is technically different from ileocolitis. Ileocolitis causes inflammation in both the ileum and colon. Ileitis affects the ileum only.

Ileocolitis is the most common type of Crohn’s disease, though ileitis is also common.

What else can cause ileitis?

The term “ileitis” refers to ileum inflammation. Besides Crohn’s disease, ileitis may be due to:

  • atypical cells or tumors
  • bacterial or fungal infections, such as tuberculosis
  • parasitic infections
  • radiation
  • long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Lower right abdominal pain and chronic diarrhea are common symptoms of Crohn’s ileitis, but these may also be visible in other types of ileitis.

Ileitis is inflammation of the ileum. Having Crohn’s ileitis means that this ileum inflammation is due to Crohn’s disease, a type of IBD that affects your digestive tract.

There’s no way to determine, on your own, if you have this type of Crohn’s. A doctor must perform imaging tests to confirm inflammation and disease of your ileum.

Like other types of Crohn’s disease, there’s currently no cure for Crohn’s ileitis. But medications can help prevent further damage and improve your overall symptoms.