If you've been experiencing ongoing digestive issues, you may be suffering from Crohn's disease. This sometimes debilitating form of inflammatory bowel disease is chronic, which means that it doesn't go away. Symptoms typically arise gradually, but they sometimes appear suddenly. Some sufferers experience periods of remission, but they are just as likely to experience periods during which their symptoms are exacerbated.
Typically, people with Crohn's disease experience inflammation in the last section of their small intestine, which is known as the ileum, and in the first section of their large intestine, which is known as the colon. These sections often develop painful sores, or ulcers, too.
While symptoms vary from one sufferer to the next, the most common ones that are associated with Crohn's disease include:
Stomach Pain - The most common symptom of Crohn's is pain in the stomach. It usually begins as intermittent cramping-like sensations. As the disease worsens, however, it sometimes progresses to become more of a dull, constant ache. The stomach may also be sore to the touch.
Diarrhea - Crohn's sufferers often experience 10 to 20 bouts of diarrhea per day.
Bloody Stool - Because of the ulcers in the digestive tract, sufferers often experience bloody stools. Sometimes, however, the bleeding isn't apparent.
Loss of Appetite - Due to stomach pain and constant bouts of diarrhea, many lose their appetite due to Crohn's.
Weight Loss - Not surprisingly, the loss of appetite that sufferers experience often leads to weight loss.
Anemia - The ulcers and resulting blood loss often cause low levels of iron in the blood, which is otherwise known as anemia.
Perianal Disease - Sometimes, Crohn's causes drainage and pain from the anus due to the development of fistulas.
Mouth Sores - In addition to developing ulcers in the digestive tract, Crohn's sufferers sometimes develop them in their mouths too. They are a lot like canker sores.
Anal Fissures - Because of constant trips to the bathroom, people with Crohn's disease sometimes develop small tears, or fissures, in and around the anus.
Fever - In more advanced cases of Crohn's, sufferers may develop high fevers. These typically arise due to infections in the digestive tract. For instance, abscesses may become so severe that they become infected.
To make matters worse, Crohn's symptoms aren't always restricted to the digestive system. Because it's an immune disorder, it can cause symptoms elsewhere in the body, including skin rashes, joint pain, eye problems and liver disease.
If you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms on an ongoing basis, schedule an appointment with your doctor. While there's no cure for Crohn's disease, there are ways to manage the symptoms through various treatments.