Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. It differs from other major inflammatory bowel diseases in that, although it most commonly affects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon, it can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus. Another difference is that while Crohn’s can affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall, the inflammation can “skip” sections, leaving some areas untouched by the disease.
Symptoms vary from patient to patient, and range from mild to severe. For some people, the symptoms come and go without warning, while others experience chronic symptoms. So how do you know if you have Crohn’s disease?
The only way to know for sure if you have Crohn’s disease is to have proper testing performed by a doctor. But you can help your doctor by keeping track of your symptoms. Below, you’ll find a list of general symptoms to watch out for. If any of them apply to you, write them down and take note of when they flare up. The more information you can provide, the better able your doctor will be to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.
Abdominal pain and cramping from Crohn’s Disease
Inflammation can affect the normal movement of contents through your bowels, which may lead to pain and cramping.
Diarrhea from Crohn’s Disease
Intestinal cramping caused by inflammation can also loosen the stools and cause diarrhea.
Rectal bleeding from Crohn’s Disease
Inflammation damages the lining of the intestines and can cause lesions. Crohn’s disease can also cause tiny cracks around the anus. Both of these conditions may cause bleeding.
Fatigue from Crohn’s Disease
The anemia often associated with Crohn’s can lead to fatigue. A low level of Vitamin B12, which is usually absorbed through the end of the small bowel, often causes fatigue as well.
Fever from Crohn’s Disease
Inflammation or infection may be the reason many people with Crohn’s have a low-grade fever when their disease is active.
Loss of appetite from Crohn’s Disease
Inflammation and abdominal pain and cramping can affect both your appetite and your ability to digest and absorb food. This can lead to weight loss as well.
What to do about Crohn’s disease?
Although there is no cure for Crohn’s disease yet, you do have options to reduce the inflammation that triggers your symptoms. Those options may include nutrition therapy, drug therapy, or surgery. The above symptoms are not a guarantee that you have Crohn’s disease, but if you’re experiencing them, talk to your doctor.
At Precision Research Institute in San Diego, we’re gastrointestinal specialists, and we’re more than happy to help with the diagnostics and testing to determine whether you have Crohn’s disease. We might even be able to help further if you qualify for one of our Crohn’s disease clinical studies.
But the first thing you need to do is talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Don’t ignore them.