The Signs and Symptoms of Crohn's Disease
For people with Crohn’s disease, they may experience inflammation in a number of places in the body. In many cases, this disease may primarily affect their small intestine. Still other patients may experience inflammation only in their colon or a portion of the large intestine. In most cases, this inflammation will be confined to the colon and the last portion of the small intestine (otherwise known as the ileum). If Crohn’s disease starts to affect the walls of the patient’s bowels, then it could eventually cause permanent scarring (stenosis) in the area. For patients with a more severe case of Crohn’s disease, the inflammation could spread all the way through the walls of their bowels resulting in what is known as a fistula.
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Depending on the patient in question, the symptoms that manifest from this disease can range from more mild to severe. In some cases, the symptoms of Crohn’s may develop quite slowly, or they could manifest spontaneously without any prior warnings. Some patients may experience periods of remission where they do not experience any of the traditional signs or symptoms of Crohn’s disease. When active, the traditional symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- Cramping and Abdominal Pain
- Blood in the Stool
- Reduced Appetite and Weight Loss
Cramping and Abdominal Pain
As you may have guessed, this disease can cause chronic inflammation, and over time this swelling of the bowels can cause a thick scar tissue to develop. This can have a significant impact on the body especially as digested food attempts to move through the patient’s digestive tract. The inflammation will cause additional cramping and pain with Crohn’s disease. If it is only a mild case, patients should only experience a moderate level of abdominal pain. On the other hand, the pain could become quite excruciating for some patients that it causes additional nausea or vomiting.
It is not uncommon for people with medical conditions like Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) to experience some bouts of diarrhea from time to time. What causes this diarrhea? Well, the inflammation in the colon, bowels, or intestinal area can cause cells in these areas to expel excess amounts of salt and water. Normally, the colon does not have to cope with these extra fluids, and so it will be forced to expel it. Also, the additional intestinal cramping can cause a patient’s stool to become looser. Diarrhea has been identified as one of the more common complications that are caused by diseases such as Crohn’s disease.
Blood in the Stool
In some cases, digested food may cause some of the more inflamed areas of the digestive tract to start bleeding, or it the bowel could become so inflamed that it starts to bleed on its own. People who have Crohn’s disease may notice some spots of bright red blood in the toilet following a bowel movement (there could also be some blood mixed in with the feces as well). On other occasions, your bowels could be bleeding internally and you may never see any blood in the toilet (this is referred to as occult blood).
Reduced Appetite and Weight Loss
If you have an illness like Crohn’s disease, you may find that your overall appetite may be much less than it once was. With the level of abdominal pain, inflammation, and cramping that Crohn’s disease can cause, the body may have a much more difficult time digesting food and absorbing nutrients. This could drastically alter a patient’s appetite and lead to additional weight loss.
Another symptom that has become commonly associated with Crohn’s disease is ulcers. These are open sores which start out small and can form on the surface of the intestine. If they are left untreated, they can become larger and penetrate further into the walls of the intestine. It is also not uncommon for people with Crohn’s to develop ulcers in their mouth quite similar to the common canker sore.
Other Signs that It May be Crohn’s Disease
Here are a list of other potential signs and symptoms that people with a more severe case of Crohn’s disease may experience:
- Eye Inflammation
- Skin Disorders
- Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts
- Mouth Sores
- Delayed growth or sexual development in children
If you feel like you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, or you have been dealing with some unusual changes in your bowel movements, then please do not wait to make an appointment with your doctor. While there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, it can be properly managed with the proper diet and other treatments.