Crohn's Disease - Symptoms

Crohn's Disease is a painful condition affecting the gastrointestinal tract. This article lists the symptoms associated with this disease.

Crohn's Disease is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects the colon and the small intestine. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body mistakes food and harmless bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract for invading organisms and then launches an immune system response against them. This immune system response can lead to many complications, both within the gastrointestinal tract, and outside of it.

The most common symptoms of Crohn's Disease are persistent diarrhea, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea and fatigue, although symptoms vary from patient to patient. Ulceration of the intestinal tract can also occur. These symptoms are a direct result of the inflammation caused by the immune system response, and can make day to day life extremely difficult for Crohn's sufferers. Because the intestinal lining is irritated and treats food as invading bacteria, the body is unable to absorb the necessary nutrients required to maintain one's energy level. Food passing through the irritated lining of the colon and small intestine can cause tremendous levels of pain which leaves many Crohn's patients nearly disabled. Fissures and fistulas can develop in the rectal area, causing further complications. For some patients during a flare-up, there is very little they can do except eat nothing, remaining bedridden until the symptoms pass.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of Crohn's Disease are not limited to the gastrointestinal tract. Because Crohn's is an inflammatory condition, other parts of the body prone to inflammation can be affected. Fever, often spiking at night, is common, as are night sweats. For many, inflammation of joints such as ankles, knees, wrists, and elbows can occur, known as peripheral arthritis. This type of arthritis is not usually permanent, and with treatment for the disease, symptoms usually go away.

Mouth sores and other oral problems can develop, and skin conditions such as rashes and lesions are not infrequent. Erythema nodosum is a skin condition that causes painful sores to develop, although these usually go away with treatment for Crohn's Disease.

A particularly difficult symptom of Crohn's can be the inflammation of the eyes. Various conditions which can arise from eye inflammation include iritis (inflammation of the iris), uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye wall), and conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye. Medical help should be sought for all of these conditions as soon as possible.

The most obvious complications arising from these symptoms are the nutritional deficiencies related to malabsorption of the intestine. Frequent diarrhea can lead to dehydration and the body's inability to take nutrients from undigested food. Because of this, many patients need to take supplements. Other common complications include the potential blockage of the intestinal tract due to inflammation and swelling. Often times this condition can be treated with medication, but sometimes surgery is required to remove the blockage.

Crohn's Disease is a serious and difficult disease to contend with, but if treated properly the patient can live a normal, active life. It is important not to let symptoms go treated, so if you experience any of these seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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