Crohn’s disease causes a variety of discomforts.
Having diarrhea can make it feel like you’re kind of handcuffed (buttcuffed?) to your toilet. For many people, these bouts of excessively loose, watery stools are blessedly infrequent. But for people who have Crohn’s disease, diarrhea and other symptoms can happen often enough to interfere with regular life.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the lining of your your digestive tract, which can spread deeper into your digestive tissues, according to the Mayo Clinic. Though people with Crohn’s can have symptom-free periods, during flares they may have to contend with awfully unpleasant or even debilitating symptoms that can run the gamut.
“Crohn’s disease may attack different portions of the gastrointestinal tract and thus cause different problems in different people,” Jessica Philpott, M.D., Ph.D., a gastroenterologist who specializes in treating inflammatory bowel disease at the Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. In general, though, people with Crohn’s disease will experience some of the following symptoms:
Sure, pretty much everyone has diarrhea from time to time. However, if you have Crohn’s disease, you might experience it on a much more severe level, Ashkan Farhadi, M.D., a gastroenterologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center and director of MemorialCare Medical Group’s Digestive Disease Project in Fountain Valley, California, tells SELF. Though it can vary, during flares people with Crohn’s disease might have diarrhea lasting anywhere from a few days to a few months, Dr. Farhadi says.
The diarrhea happens because of the gut inflammation inherent to Crohn’s, Dr. Farhadi says. Even though Crohn’s can impact any part of your digestive system, it typically affects the last part of the small intestine (where most of the digestive process happens) and the colon (the longest part of the large intestine, which moves stool so it can exit your body), according to the Mayo Clinic. It makes perfect, painful sense that when these parts of your digestive tract are irritated, they can’t do their jobs properly—and you can get some pretty nasty diarrhea as a result. What’s more, that Crohn’s-induced inflammation can also cause the affected parts of your digestive tract to become hyperactive and spasm too much, Dr. Philpott says, which can force food to move through your system far too quickly, resulting in those really loose, watery stools.
2. Bloody poop
No one likes looking into the toilet bowl and seeing blood, but this can be a reality for people with Crohn’s. The illness can cause open sores (ulcers) anywhere in your digestive tract, the Mayo Clinicsays. Unfortunately, those ulcers can bleed, causing bloody poop, Dr. Farhadi says. This is one of many reasons why you might see blood in your poop, which is always something to bring up to your doctor, even though it’s not always a sign of something this serious. But when accompanied by other symptoms on this list, it’s a clear red flag that something’s up with your gut.
3. Stomach pain and cramping
So, remember how that inflammation can make your intestines go way overboard with cramping? That can introduce a ton of pain into your life. Also, people with Crohn’s may eventually experience scarring and narrowing of their intestinal walls (known as intestinal strictures). “This causes pain and bloating because the stool has a hard time getting through,” Dr. Philpott says.
It’s not like if you have Crohn’s disease, you’re burning up 24/7. Instead, your temperature might spike when your digestive tract is under siege during a Crohn’s flare. Fever is one sign that your body’s immune system has activated in response to a threat, and this can happen because of inflammation tied to Crohn’s disease, Dr. Farhadi says.
It’s pretty much a given that when you’re dealing with Crohn’s disease symptoms like diarrhea and a fever, you’re not going to feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. All that inflammation and your body’s resulting immune response can make you feel wiped out, Dr. Farhadi says. Diarrhea and its effects can also be a culprit, Dr. Philpott says. When you have diarrhea, your body doesn’t absorb the nutrients you eat as well as it should, and that can affect your overall health, she explains. This can possibly even lead to issues like anemia and dehydration, both of which can make you feel tired. Finally, to round it out, symptoms of Crohn’s can keep you up at night, making things even worse, Dr. Philpott says.
|Read on: 10 Crohn’s Disease Symptoms, From Diarrhea to Beyond | SELF|