Ever wonder how to manage Crohn’s disease? Could it be contributing to other aspects of your health? Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the colon and GI tract. While there is no cure and Crohn’s can be difficult to live with, it’s important to understand some potential symptoms so you can better manage it.
Catching the early signs of Crohn’s disease is key to maintaining a healthy, comfortable lifestyle. The most common symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, stomach cramps, weight loss, and bloody stool. These can be easy to identify with Crohn’s since they involve the digestive tract. However, there are also less obvious symptoms of Crohn’s disease that should not be ignored. If you suspect you may have Crohn’s disease and experience any of these five symptoms, please schedule a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible.
1. Aching Joints for everyone
Because Crohn’s is an inflammatory disease, an unexpected symptom is aching joints. Though any joint area could be impacted, larger joints such as the knees, shoulders, hips are the most likely to be affected. According to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, up to 25% of people diagnosed with Crohn’s disease develop arthritis as well.
2. Inflammation of Eyes
The inflammatory nature of Crohn’s disease can also affect the eyes. Eye inflammation can be mild, only affecting the outer layer of the eye. The appearance could look similar to pink eye. More serious inflammation can affect deeper layers of the eye. If left unaddressed, it could lead to blindness. According to CrohnsDisease.com, 2%-6% of people diagnosed with Crohn’s experienced eye inflammation on some level.
3. Skin Conditions
Crohn’s disease can also manifest itself into skin conditions. These can include erythema nodosum, which appear as red nodules or large, painful ulcers known as pyoderma gangrenosum. Since Crohn’s can affect any area of the GI tract, canker sores around the mouth can also appear as a symptom.
4. Migraine Headaches
Recent studies show that inflammation may be a significant cause of migraine headaches, particularly in women. Patients diagnosed with Crohn’s disease may find that their headaches go away once treatment begins.
5. Fever and Night Sweats
Fever is a natural response to inflammation, so if you are experiencing fever along with any other symptom of Crohn’s, you should consult a doctor immediately. Waking up drenched in sweat is also another symptom of inflammation. Always be aware in sudden increases in body temperature, as this typically means that something is amiss. As with many diseases, symptoms can vary amongst individuals. Crohn’s disease affects approximately 1.4 million Americans and the disease is typically diagnosed in younger individuals, between the ages of 15 and 30. Though the cause is unknown, there appears to be heredity factor. Some of us just have more sensitive stomachs than others! The disease is typically diagnosed through a blood test or a fecal test.
Living a Full and Active Life
Though there is no cure for Crohn’s, recent studies indicate that early treatment reduces complications with the disease. Treatments for Crohn’s disease include medications to manage symptoms, or, in more advanced cases, surgeries such as bowel resection or colectomy. Life with Crohn’s often means you have to watch your diet carefully and never be too far away from the bathroom. Becoming familiar with all types of symptoms could help you jumpstart a conversation with your doctor, getting an early diagnosis, and help make managing Crohn’s disease easier.