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Symptoms of Crohn's Disease

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Crohn's disease are dependent on the location, the extent, and the severity of the inflammation. Some symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:

  • Diarrhea. The most common symptom of Crohn's disease is diarrhea. Crohn's disease prevents the proper absorption of food, resulting in diarrhea.
  • Reduced appetite. Abdominal pain and cramping and the inflammatory reaction in the wall of your bowel can affect your appetite.
  • Weight loss. Weight loss is common due to the bowel's inability to absorb sufficient nutrition. Supplemental nutrition may be necessary if you are malnourished because of severe Crohn's disease in the small intestine.
  • Fever. Fever is a frequent accompaniment of inflammation of any type and is common in Crohn's.
  • Fatigue. People with severe Crohn's disease may experience fatigue.
  • Abdominal pain/cramps. The intestine has a muscular coat that is subject to muscle spasm, as are muscles elsewhere in the body. However, the inflamed bowel sends more signals to the bowel's richly supplied nerve elements, making it even more irritable and subject to spasm.
  • Blood in feces. Since the lining of the colon can also be ulcerated, the diarrhea often contains blood.
  • Rectal bleeding. Ulcers around the rectal area can become aggravated and bleed.
  • Anal Fistulas/Abcesses. An abnormal connection between the intestine and the skin may occur. When this communication is near the opening of the rectum, it is referred to as an anal fistula. Large pus pockets or abscesses may accumulate, producing severe pain and fever.
  • Anal fissures. The rectum and its opening (the anus) may become a focal point for inflammation, with the formation of painful inflamed slits in the skin and superficial tissues, called anal fissures.
  • Ulcers. Parts of the digestive tract may get swollen and develop deep sores.

Are there any additional complications?

Unfortunately, yes, Crohn's can lead to some other health complications. Serious complications that can arise from Crohn’s disease are:

  • Arthritis. Arthritis may develop causing pain, swelling, and stiffness of your joints and extremities. Inflammation of the low back and of the spine can affect the spine causing loss of motion and other issues. Some researchers believe that the same immune system response that produces inflammation in your intestines may cause inflammation in your joints and that may lead to arthritis.
  • Growth problems. Due to the bowel's inability to absorb sufficient nutrition, in children, a failure or delay in growth and maturity may result. Nutritional support is especially important for children who are not growing normally.
  • Eye inflammation. Painful eye conditions (uveitis and episcleritis) can cause visual difficulties.
  • Skin disorders. Painful red raised spots on the legs and an ulcerating skin condition generally found around the ankles can occur.
  • Liver inflammation. Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) or bile ducts (primary sclerosing cholangitis) also can occur. This can cause narrowing and obstruction of the ducts draining the liver and can lead to yellow skin. Recurrent bacterial infections and liver cirrhosis with liver failure could potentially occur.

What causes these painful flare-ups?

The exact triggers for Crohn’s disease flare-ups is not known. These flare-ups tend to appear and disappear sporadically, with varying degrees of severity.

Do you have more questions?

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