Crohn's disease is one of the main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

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Causes of Crohn's disease

  • The cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. Research suggests a combination of environmental and genetic factors is responsible for the onset of Crohn’s disease.
  • Crohn’s disease is a chronic (long-term) condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system.
  • Over time, the inflammation can damage sections of the digestive system causing additional complications.

Symptoms of Crohn's disease

  • Symptoms of Crohn's disease include diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fatigue.

Treatments for Crohn's disease

  • There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease.
  • Medication is available to treat the symptoms and prevent them from returning.
  • Treatments can include the use of steroids, antibiotics and immunosuppressants.
  • This type of medication will help in reducing inflammation.
  • About 80% of people with Crohn’s disease will require surgery in order to relieve their symptoms and to repair damage to their digestive system.

Supporting students with Crohn's disease

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Personal care

  • Students may need to use the bathroom urgently and have a change of clothes on site. Make arrangements so that this can be done sensitively and discretely. A student held permission card is one way of doing this. 
  • Make sure supply or cover staff are aware of arrangements and permissions. 

Energy levels

  • Energy levels will be low at times making subjects like PE difficult. Make arrangements for alternative PE activities if required. 
  • Listen to the student and let then set their own pace and say when they need a break.

Social interaction

  • Social situations can be difficult. Increased risk of becoming withdrawn and isolated is possible due to fear of ‘having an accident’. 
  • A fear of being bullied or ridiculed due to their condition can be present. 
  • Some young people may limit eating.
  • Be alert to changes in individual and group behaviour or increased absence from school.
  • Talk to the student and their parents/carers if you notice changes in behaviour.  

Absence from school

  • Admissions to hospital can lead to anxiety about falling behind with work and loosing friends. 
  • Liaise as soon as possible with the hospital teaching team and home tutors. Students are generally keen to get on with work set by school when they feel well enough.
  • With the agreement of parents/carers use email to contact hospital teachers and the student. It's quicker and more efficient than passing work via friends/siblings.
  • Work can be returned for marking and feedback via email.

This guide provides more information and advice for schools:  


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