Crohn's Disease Life Expectancy: Will Your Life Be Shorter?

Life Expectancy with Crohn’s Disease

After I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, the first thing I wanted to know from my doctor was whether or not this disease was going to kill me. My second question was what kind of life I would be able to live.

Crohn's disease is a condition that causes inflammation of the intestines; it can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract, which starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. The small bowel and the colon are the areas of the body most often affected.

Symptoms may include diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, blood in the stool, constipation, skin problems, and fatigue. All of these symptoms may be present, but you probably wouldn't have them all at one time.

Until patients are reassured by the statistics, the questions regarding life expectancy are a concern. Fortunately, most don't need to worry about having a shortened life expectancy, although there are dos and don'ts (see below).

Q: Will Crohn's Disease Kill Me?

A: Probably not. Although Crohn's will certainly affect the quality of your life, it probably won't shorten it.

Crohn's Disease: How Long Will I Live?

In the last 50 years, there have been important advances in the diagnosis and treatment of Crohn's. The danger of life-threatening complications, such as with toxic megacolon, is less than 1%.

The risk of death from a severe attack of Crohn's was as high as 30 to 60% in the 1950s, but the risk today has diminished to below 3%.

With the use of natural treatments, many people have also been able to get symptoms under control naturally. Using such things as diet, exercise, and stress-controlling techniques can give you full control over your health.

You and I needn't worry that we won't enjoy a normal lifespan because it is extremely likely that we will. Although dealing with the disease can be frightening, and your life will be changed by it, if you do what you can to manage and monitor your symptoms, you won't have to worry about being here for a shorter amount of time. You have every reason to expect to live a long life.

There are, however, exceptions and complications. Below, you'll find tips for managing the disease and a list of the rarer side effects and complications of Crohn's which could affect the length of life.

How to Prolong Life with Crohn's

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat a balanced, healthy, a high-calorie diet that's low in fat. Avoid red meat and pork. Steer away from dairy of you're lactose-intolerant. It's preferable to eat many small meals than a few large ones. Some benefit from a low fiber diet.
  • Keep track of which foods trigger a flare-up and which don't. Avoid the foods that trigger symptoms.
  • Eliminate caffeine.
  • Avoid alcohol (especially if you're taking antibiotics).
  • Take all your medications as prescribed. Don't take less or skip doses.
  • If you take an over-the-counter pain reliever, choose Tylenol, not aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), or naproxen sodium (Aleve) which can increase inflammation.
  • Pay careful attention to symptoms and side effects. Talk to your doctor regularly.

Complications with Crohn's

  • The side effects of medications. There is an extensive list of medications used to treat the disease, and the list of side effects is even longer. It's important that you pay close attention to your symptoms and talk to your doctor.
  • The reduced efficacy of medications over time. Your theraputic needs may change over time, so it's important to remain vigilant.
  • There's increased risk of bowel or colon cancer with Crohn's. Ask your doctor if you are up-to-date in all your tests.
  • The likelihood of surgery: About 70% with the disease eventually require surgery.

How Long Have You Had Crohn's?

Share Your Experience

  • I've just received my diagnosis.
  • 1-5 years
  • 6-15 years
  • 16-30 years
  • 31-49 years
  • I've had it 50 years or more, and I'm still here.
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Comments: Please add your questions, advice, and experience below. 37 comments

Rebecca 18 hours ago

I've had Chrohns for 27 years. I have controlled it from avoiding all foods that make it flare up. I just had a recent colonoscopy and everything looks good. Only 2 polups (sp) were to be removed. However after the colonoscopy Ive been flared up. Not sure if the laxative and testing "juice" caused this or not, but I am working toward quieting the dragon within. :-)

4915 3 weeks ago

i'm only 15 and i had to go to the hospital for pooping straight blood, puking, and bad stomach aches. They said i either have colitis or crohn's disease. I have to go to a doctor to get a colonoscopy. & honestly i'm kind of scared. should i be?

Vickram 2 months ago

I've just been detected with crohn's disease. I'm 53. Don't know what to do?

mike 2 months ago

jon: What medication are you taking? Maybe I can share some of mine with you?

Robbie357 3 months ago

I have had Cohn's for 18 years. I have had 9 surgeries to remove most of my lower intestine and colon I have a permanent colostomy. About 14 years ago my intestine burst while I was asleep. I was put in a drug induced coma for 3 weeks it was suppose to be a month but my heart started acting up and they had to pull me out early. I spent 6 months in the hospital that time.. It was the longest and most painful 6 months of my life. LOL. And I know pain. I had a total hip replacement with complications. When the surgeon sawed The Femur bone off it crumble like chalk . They could not get the pain under control. I had a heart attack on Saturday a massive heart attack on Sunday and a quadruple bypass's the following Tuesday a week to the day of my hip replacement. You just have to take it one day at a time.LOL And sometimes you just have to suck it up and smile when some one ask how you feel."LIE!" And "SMILE" when you do it. If you complain constantly people will get to where they don't want to be around you. The thing that will help you most is to learn to meditate. With a whole lot of practice you can learn to put your mind some where else. If it were not for being able to do that I think I would have lost my mind .

Jon 5 months ago

I have had crohns for about 15 years. It is a huge weight that I struggle to carry. I was recently fired from my job in financial sales for not making my quota, now I can not afford my insurance and am afraid I will be without insurance. I am running out of medication and the bills are stacking up. I am depressed and in pain and I am afraid. I was a straight A student and an athlete. That all changed when crohns hit me. It took me 7 years to graduate college bc I couldn't walk to class from the pain. I have been able to recover my health with medication, but mentally I don't know. I feel like life left me behind and I am not supposed to be here. The pain is getting worse by the day as I try to stretch out my medicine. I don't know what to do. I need about $600 more dollars to pay my cobra and after I pay for that I still will not be able to afford the script refill. I remember the pain I suffered for years and I don't know if I can do it again. Crohns has literally destroyed my life and I just hope I can make it through this and find a way. Part of me feels so much stronger due to the crohns and pain I have endured. I see things differently now and I sometimes think thats a good thing. Other times I wish I could live like I once did, taking my life for granted, being happy and free.

Johm 5 months ago

Hi iv been diagnosed today with 28 yrs old and it's all a big surprise to me since I'm a generally healthy person who exercises on a regular bases. I have not yet had to get surgery but it's def a possibility in near future. I will b startin to take steroids to manage my symptoms. Iv been constantly reading up on this disease and sounds like with self management And treatment from doctors I can still live a long normal-sh life wich was my main concern. I hope the best for myself and anyone else with this disease and hopefully they will find a cure.

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Snakesmum 5 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Crohn's has been part of my life for about 6 years now. I didn't know what the problem was until I was admitted to hospital with heavy bleeding after severe abdominal pains. Since then, I haven't had a really bad attack, as I watch what I eat. No more curries or spicy foods. If it starts to play up, I eat very bland foods for a few days, and so far, am not on any medication. I think I'm luckier than most with CD as it doesn't interfere with my life very much.

shirley wagenheim 11 months ago

I have had crohns for 69 yrs, I had a resections of the small intestine 55 yrs ago. I live with crohns and do not know any other way of life. I have lived through everything in my sixty yrs with crohns. I have a wonderful husband who does not know any other way than how we have been living. I am 87 yrs young and look good and still can enjoy myself in spite of it. I tae good care of myself, that is important.

obaid 12 months ago

chron's disease since the age of 4 , lived every single day with pain till the age of 12 , started medication and due to this medication which wasn't working on me for unknown reason they changed my treatment to biological treatment involving weeks , months and years (depends on how much time you spent taking it ) . 5k$+ for every injection and even though i didn't mind the biological treatment i suffer on weekly basis 3 times - 4 times from pain (same as getting punched in the stomach) for 7 hours non-stop and can lead me to missing 1 day of university .

Do not smoke (My biggest mistake)

Find something to do (Which i never do)

Never give up and get used to the pain ( Like i did )

Due to a unknown reason my body sometimes stops moving for 2-3 hours and the only thing i do is wait .

DO NOT be happy or sad that you got the disease , be normal because this is nothing compared to people that has cancer .

steph 13 months ago

I suffered a toxic mega colon aged 7 and survived, barely, but its 21 years on and the problems keep coming, i'm about to have the 5th major surgery of my life and there is only so much of my small intestine i can live without, i'm finding it increasing difficult to maintain weight, of course my life expectancy is reduced by this, there is added pressure on my heart. There are a number of nasty things Crohns can throw at you. Its unrealistic to think this doesn't reduce life expectancy.

wizzle 15 months ago

as one who struggles with crohn's disease, i was rather disappointed in the findings. i would prefer to die earlier (like 60 or something) than 78+ years old, and deal with the pain for that much longer ;) guess there's only a few of us out there who feel this way. lol

Rebecca 15 months ago

Some people's Crohns can be very serious and even in this day and age can shorten their life. I don't mean to scare anyone, but all natural treatments don't work for everyone and can do more harm than good. My mother was diagnosed with Crohns disease at 19 years old and is now 58. She is in a very bad place and is currently being treated at the Mayo clinic to re-position her permanent ostomy. She has no large intestine and has short bowel syndrome as she has almost no small intestine left. What is left is actively fighting crohns and in bad shape. When people deal with a disease this badly for so long, their bodies stop responding to medications. She averages two years or less on each new drug before they are completely ineffective. They told her due to the extensive scarring, adhesions and conditions of her abdomen, they will never operate again. I do believe this condition will shorten her life. Stay in contact with your doctors and monitor this condition very closely, it can change in a heartbeat.

Anonymous 16 months ago

my husband has had Crohn's disease since he was 16 years old he is now 50. It's like any other disease you learn to live with the ups and the downs. Just remember a healthy person can have their lifespan sho my husband has had Crohn's disease since he was 16 years old he is now 50. It's like any other disease you learn to live with the ups and the downs. A healthy person's life span can also be shortened just by walking outside and getting hit by a bus. Remember to live life to the fullest.

LW 17 months ago

Except I don't really want to live a normal life span if it's a life like this. I would give up well over a decade of my life if I could get rid of my symptoms forever. Happily.

Demi 17 months ago

I have been suffering with intense cd for years and it has been left untreated and because off this the damage coursed is untreatable I am only 23 and to anyone that is reading this my advise is if u have any worrys or concerns u should see ur doctor as an early prognoses is better as less damage is coursed and can be easily managed along side specialists

tarek boughdiri 17 months ago

A common fear that many people have when they find out that they have Crohn’s Disease is will they live as long as normal people. Having Crohn’s Disease doesn’t mean that you won’t live to a ripe old age and enjoy all of the great things that life has to offer.

Having Crohn’s Disease doesn’t mean that you are going to drop dead tomorrow, or have a life ten years shorter than everyone else. People with Crohn’s Disease have a relatively normal life expectancy compared to the general population.

You may need to make lifestyle changes to make sure that your Crohn’s stays in remission, but on the whole people with Crohn’s Disease can do anything that they put their minds to.

Some lifestyle changes can include diet, getting enough exercise and keeping stress and stress levels in check. By looking after yourself and your body you can enjoy life as much as the next person.

The risk of dying from an acutely serious attack of Crohn’s Disease in this day and age is relatively low. If you had Crohn’s Disease in the 1950’s the risk of death due to a serious attack of Crohn’s was well over 30 percent!

Even though some flare ups can be life threatening, with the knowledge that you are getting from this site and what you already know, I’m sure there is no need to be worried and lose any sleep at night.

Even though the risk of colon cancer is slightly higher than the general population 3-5 percent on average, with the proper care these things can be easily managed. With the use of natural solutions, as well as working with your doctor for tests etc to keep track of how things are going in your body, you will be fine.

My Crohn’s has been very close to life threatening at times, before I learned about natural solutions and what they could do for me. I am very grateful to my doctors and specialist who kept me alive through this time. Because of this I can be here today to share with you some other options when it comes to Crohn’s Disease, and getting yourself well again.

If you have any concerns about your life expectancy because you have Crohn’s Disease I invite you to ask your doctor about it next time you see him. He will tell you the same as I have been telling you about your life expectancy, that you will live a normal and happy life, but maybe with some changes.

Staying fit is great for helping your life expectancy and your health in general. Being active is important when you have Crohn’s Disease, as being fit helps you to have better digestion. If you have a flare up it can be hard to be active, but any kind of movement is better than none.

Here is wishing you a long, happy life. Be grateful that you will live as long as any else, hey you may live longer because you chose to look after yourself and your body for the betterment of your health.

darcey 18 months ago

I have had crohns since age of 12 diagnosed i am now 52 i dont remember living without it i received a permanent ostomy at 28 numerous ops my life is a continuous roller coaster but thru it all i smile i have become a master of the masks a maestro of pain

Stephanie Nagel 18 months ago

I am having a lot of problems with my 11 yr old constantly vomiting. He is sent home from school so much. Since he was little he's had a bad gag reflex, if something smelled bad, or just strong to.him, forget it, he will lose it! Example, he wouldn't be able to come into wawa with me because of the coffee smell! Anyway, a lot of other symptoms as well. Today I was talking to a few teachers, and councillors at his school and one of them has a son with Crohn's. She told me about her son, and everything she said seemed like what my son goes through. The only thing is my son has a good appititie some of the time.....and his weight is healthy, a little over in my opinion ((I am not crazy and make him diet, he doesn't look overweight))

Anyway, what I am getting at is what can I look for until I can get him in my dr? Also, does Crohn's have to have all symptoms or do ppl only show some? Im worried, and would like to know what is wrong, watching him constantly sick to his stomach is hard......and missing so much school is detrimental to his education.

Alex 19 months ago

Im 17 years old and recently been diagnosed with Crohn's. I've had to have a life saving operation with just 25% of survival because of how bad the Crohn's had got to my bowel. This meaning 15cm of my bowel having to be removed. I am now waiting on my second operation for everything to be revered.

Before all this happened I used to sprint for Mandale athletics club in the 100m I have recently got back into the sport I love and am fighting hard to get back to the level I was racing at. Just to let everyone know not to be afraid of this disease because im sure not and remember your mind is your biggest enemy.

resha 19 months ago

hi guys i hav a nephew with crohn disease he suffers a lot....on seeing her child in this condition' the mother gets deppression...omg all of us needs to care for cure yet

Lana 19 months ago

In 1972,@ 13 yrs old I was diagnosed & treated for ulcerative colitis, about the same time the decision was made to change the way wheat was grown,growing my family ate a lot of wheat.

After 3 yrs of azulphidine I suppose I was considered to be in remission.

I've managed flare ups with changing to a gluten (wheat,rye,barley & oats) free diet & I dance or walk for exercise, I also meditate & pray & managing time & stress help too. Stress is an agitator. This I've learned over 40 year history.

I have recently been diagnosed with Chrone's Disease after having few problems since I went into remission with ulcerative colitis.

I've also had an unusual amount of stress but have removed the agitator and am on my way to remission again I hope.

Nick 20 months ago

I am 18 and was diagnosed about two years ago, and I am part a specialized study to do research on CD. Before being diagnosed,I suffered from extreme abdominal pains. However, my doctors put me on 100mg of mercaptapurine (not sure if that's spelled right, but it is also known as 6MP) It is in the form of pills so no needles are needed. ever since they put me on that medicine,I have not had any pain or signs of CD.

From what I understand, CD affects everybody differently, with various forms of intensity. I see commercials for that Humira, but I don't trust any drug that has a commercial.

Hopefully you all can achieve remission as well, despite it being scary when you first learn of it.

sunny bains 24 months ago

Hi 2 al i av ad chrones for 6 years and ad it bad ive been in an out of hospitals for a long tym now i keep aving problems wiv fistula's they opperate an leave the wounds open av them packed once that's nearly heald i get another 1 its been goin on for long an cant seem 2 get rid of them ,any who can help or any sugestions plz

Donna 2 years ago

I have chron's for about 4 years now. I am taking medications for it called Humira I give myself a needle of the med every 2 weeks and have been in remission now since I starting taking it(about 2 1/2 years now) it save my life, keeps me from living in the bathroom. I have only had one flare-up and that is just recently because of my diet.

henray brown 2 years ago

I have chrones and had two surgerys but they have it under control I'm doing good so far let's all get together meet up and hold a support group month to month cause it can really get real frustrated at times???

Jaylen 2 years ago

I just got diagnosed with crohn's. I am 16 years old, I am scared of not being able to be the same rebellious, free, teen i was before. I guess things happen for a reason, and things change for a reason. It frightens me to know my life is going to change forever with this disease.

Mike 2 years ago

Sam: I had a similar procedure done when I was in the hospital, it sucks but is temporary. Your nephew can live a long life, and with the right medication relatively normal. I have had months/years of remission and months/years of unending pain.

sam 2 years ago

My 16 yr nephew was told he has crohn disease and he has to have surgery. The doctor told him he would have to put a tube down his nose into his body to keep that crap broke up him self and eventually this disease will kill him. Can anyone tell me exactly what this is and how long u last with this crohn disease?

Bob 2 years ago

Comfort care unfortunately is the same as can happen...too many unknowns yet and too many nasty side effects

kim 2 years ago

I am so sorry, Sue, about your brother. What exactly is comfort care?

Sue 2 years ago

My brother has been battling CD for over 20 yrs. He was hospitalized 10 months ago (turned 60 in July) and sadly just today we had to make the toughest decision of our lives to place him in "comfort" care. I guess he is the 3%. :(

sherine zohdi 2 years ago

My daughter has chron's for years, last thing is that she is on remicade.

We have no medical insurance in Egypt that can cover the high cost of the remicade, I currently support her but I cannot stop thinking of how can she manage if anything happens to me....the moment I see her suffering I remmber a flash back of all the years she suffered from the pains , it even took the Egyptian doctors 5 years to discover the chron's!!!!!!!!!!!!

heather 3 years ago

with taking autoimmune suppressant drugs to treat CD there is also a risk of contracting another infection that will wipe you out.

realist 3 years ago

uh ... did you forget about the cancer in the colon? Those of us with CD have a significantly higher chance of getting it.

louise 3 years ago

I have chrohns and am going through a very bad time! I found this information very interesting x

Peter Geekie profile image

Peter Geekie 3 years ago from Sittingbourne

Dear andrewfrancis

Thank you for an informative article on this condition that many people find difficult to both deal with or even talk about.

Voted up,useful and interesting.

Kind regards Peter

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