Crohn’s disease is a painful inflammatory condition that affects between 400,000 and 600,000 individuals in North America alone. It is caused by a combination of factors- bacterial, environmental, immunological, and genetic. In Crohn’s disease, the affected persons immune system attacks the intestines. It was previously thought of as an autoimmune disease, but recent study has reclassified it as a state of immune deficiency.
There are no known cures to Crohn’s disease, but there are a variety of treatment options. The treatments look to control the condition and prevent relapse of the severe symptoms.
Crohn’s disease is equally found in both women and men and it can occur at any age. Smokers are twice as likely to get the disease. Many of the symptoms of Crohn’s disease are gastrointestinal in nature, but the entire body can be affected.
Here are 10 common symptoms of Crohn’s disease
1. Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain may be one of the first symptoms of Crohn’s disease. As the intestines become inflamed and irritated, the bowels send pain signals to the brain. As the disease progresses, ulcers may form along the large and small intestines. As food passes these injuries, a deep pain may be felt. Abdominal pain leading to vomiting can be a sign of a small bowel obstruction. If you experience regular extreme abdominal pain, talk to your doctor as Crohn’s can have many serious complications
In severe Crohn’s disease sufferers, painful cramping may be common. As the disease progresses, scar tissue can form around the intestines. As the person eats and the intestines shift, the scar tissue can pull. This can cause incredibly painful cramping. The person may feel nauseated and throw up because of the pain. This can make a Crohn’s sufferer lose the desire to eat because they are so violently ill when they do. Bloating and flatulence in relation to Crohn’s disease can also cause cramping.
When Crohn’s disease affects the intestines, it causes them to pump out water and electrolytes. This mixes with the stools, causing diarrhea. If the large intestine is affected, diarrhea may be small in quantity but affect the sufferer numerous times a day. If the small intestine is affected, diarrhea may be very large in quantity but affect the sufferer in less frequency. If you suffer from frequent diarrhea, you may become dehydrated because of the loss of liquids. Be sure to rehydrate with not only water, but salts and minerals to.
4. Bloody Stool
Bloody stools are a disconcerting symptom of Crohn’s disease. As the inflammation of the bowels cause ulcers, blood may mix with the stool. If the blood comes from high in the digestive process, the stool may appear black in color. If the blood comes from further in the digestive processes, the blood may be bright red. Frequent diarrhea can cause bloody liquid to be discharged into the toilet. If you experience any type of bloody stool, contact your doctor immediately.
5. Frequent Defecation
With chronic diarrhea, a Crohn’s disease sufferer may experience very frequent defecation. It may be upwards of 20 times a day, even waking the person up at night. Very frequent defecation brings a host of related conditions. Hemorrhoids are common as the bowels lose friction to the excrement. Prolonged Crohn’s attacks can bring on fecal incontinence. The rectum may also suffer from abscesses and fistulas. These too can cause fecal incontinence.
6. Weight Loss
Crohn’s disease can affect the growth of children who are affected. Crohn’s can cause nutrient malabsorption, which can stunt the growth of young individuals if manifested before puberty. On an adult, Crohn’s disease can also cause weight loss. This is caused by the refusal of food by a Crohn’s sufferer. The affected individual may feel much better when not eating as their digestive symptoms temporarily halt. An affected individual may also fail to absorb carbohydrates and fat, thus excreting them and not absorbing the calories.
A person with Crohn’s disease has a higher chance of seronegative spondyloarthopathy. This disease affects the skeleton and resembles rheumatoid arthritis in symptoms. Large joints, such as those around the shoulders, knees, and hips, may be affected by inflammation. Conversely, the small joints of the hands and feet may be affected. This type of disease also affects the spin, limiting motion and body function.
8. Eye Pain
Vision troubles can accompany Crohn’s disease. These eye problems can have permanent consequences if not treated- they can leave you blind. One condition called episcleritis affects the white of the eye. Another, called uveitis, affects the interior of the eye. Both conditions area result of inflammation. If you have or think you may have Crohn’s disease and are experiencing eye swelling, pain, or loss of vision, contact your doctor right away.
Crohn’s disease may affect the ileum, which is the last part of the small intestine. Its function is to absorb both the vitamin B12 and the bile salts. When Crohn’s disease affects this, the bile salts are not absorbed and thus are excreted. The gallbladder then has an unbalanced ratio of cholesterol to bile, causing distress and eventually gallstones. A gallstone attack is very painful, resembling the symptoms of a heart attack.
10. Skin Issues
Crohn’s disease may manifest in the skin of an affected individual. It can cause blood clots, resulting in deep venous thrombosis. There are two main skin manifestations- erythema nodosum and pyoderma gangenosum. Erythema nodosum causes red nodules around the shins of the afflicted individual. Pyoderma gangrenosum causes ulcers in the form of necrotic tissue. It is common on the legs, but can form anywhere on the body. Both conditions start with superficial small imperfections but grow to be large and painful.