Crohn’s disease is a long term condition that causes inflammation throughout your digestive tract. This inflammation can affect any area of the gastrointestinal tract causing painful and debilitating symptoms. If left untreated, a person can also experience life-threatening complications. The GI tract runs from the mouth to the anus. Crohn’s disease affects each patient differently. Here are the most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
Gastrointestinal Tract Inflammation
Below are four types of Crohn’s disease:
- Ileocolitis – Ileocolitis affects the small intestine along with a portion of the large intestine and is the most common type of Crohn’s disease.
- Ileitis – Ileitis occurs when there is inflammation and swelling along the ileum (small intestine).
- Gastroduodenal – Gastroduodenal affects the stomach and top of the small intestine (the duodenum), causing irritation and inflammation.
- Jejunoileitis – This type of Crohn’s disease causes patchy spots of inflammation in the upper half of the small intestine (jejunum).
If inflammation is located in the colon or lower GI tract, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Abdominal cramping and pain
- Blood in your feces
- Constipation that may progress to a blockage in your intestines
- Feeling like your bowels have not totally emptied
- Loss of appetite
- Painful, draining sore near the anus
- Urgent bowel movements
- Weight loss
Approximately 4 percent of adults suffering from Crohn’s disease will experience symptoms in the upper portion of the GI tract.
This will lead to the following symptoms:
- Chest pain (similar to GERD)
- Swallowing difficulties
- Weight loss
Other symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- Abnormal skin tags
- Anal fissures
- Anal fistulas
- Rectal bleeding
- Intestinal blockage
- Pain that does not subside
- Mouth sores
- Night sweats
- Unusual menstrual cycle
Complications of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease can cause various health complications. These complications can be local (involving only the intestinal tract) or systemic (affecting the entire body)
Local complications include:
- Abscesses – An abscess creates a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. The abscess can form anywhere along your intestinal wall to the anus. This type of abscess will look similar to a boil. Abscesses can cause swelling, pain, fever, and tenderness. To clear up an infection, antibiotics are needed.
- Fissure – Fissures are small tears along the lining of the anus. These tears are painful and will often bleed during a bowel movement.
- Fistula – Fistulas occur when sores or ulcers cause openings to form between two sections of the intestine. Fistulas can also tunnel into the vagina, the skin, or the bladder.
- Malnutrition and Malabsorption – Chronic inflammation can compromise the digestive system and in turn the ability to digest food and absorb nutrients.
- Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth – Your gastrointestinal tract is filled with bacteria that is used to break down and digest food. If these bacteria begin to multiply, the bacteria travel up the digestive tract, causing abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, and bloating.
- Stricture – Strictures are thick, narrow areas in the intestines that cause abdominal pain and bloating.
Systemic complications include:
- Ankylosing Spondylitis – This serious spinal arthritis can happen to Crohn’s patients. You can also experience inflammation of your heart valves, eyes, or lungs..
- Axial Inflammation – This systemic inflammation affects the spine or lower back. Individuals experiencing axial inflammation can have trouble breathing because it prevents ribs from fully expanding and permanent damage to the spine can occur.
- Peripheral Inflammation – This type of systemic inflammation affects the large joints in the legs or arms, including your knees, wrists, ankles, and elbows. The inflammation can move from joint to joint. Once in remission, the inflammation will subside.
- Skin problems can also occur in Crohn’s disease. Small nodules can form on the arms, ankles, and shins called Erythema nodosum. If your skin is damaged, you can develop pus filled sores called Pyoderma gangrenous. If left untreated, long lasting ulcers can form. Canker sores are also common in individuals suffering from Crohn’s disease. Finally, skin tags and hemorrhoids can occur.
Crohn’s disease can also affect the eyes, kidneys, and liver. Crohn’s disease can cause fatty liver disease, pancreatitis, hepatitis, and gallstones. Bone loss is another common complication of Crohn’s disease. The body is unable to absorb calcium or vitamin D, your bones can become weak. Because of the wide-reaching repercussions of this type of inflammatory bowel disease, it is important that you have a team of integrative practitioners who understand how to bring about healing and long term remission.
According to the CDC, approximately 780,000 Americans suffer from Crohn’s disease. Smokers are twice as likely to develop this inflammatory bowel disease. The caring staff at Rose Wellness is ready to support you and use the latest treatment protocols along with proven natural remedies for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, support your body and heal your gastrointestinal tract. The team will work with you to determine which foods are irritating your digestive system and possibly aggravating your symptoms.