Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory diseaseof the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that cancause debilitating pain. This inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is named after the doctor who described the disease in 1932, Dr. Burrill B. Crohn. It can affect the entire GI tract, from the mouth to anus, and can lead to serious complications including bleeding from the rectum and narrowing of the intestines. Crohn’s disease presents with symptoms that appear in flares (times when symptoms are active) followed by periods without any symptoms (remission).Around 1.6 million Americans are affected and there is no cure. Because it is lifelong and unpredictable, it can have a profound impact on the quality of life. The good news is that Crohn’s is very controllable, and with proper treatment, most sufferers lead normal lives.
The symptoms of Crohn’sare often very similar to ulcerative colitis, but the two diseases are different.
Abdominal cramping. Inflammation can make food move slower through the bowels and cause cramping. Pain can range from mild to severe.
Diarrhea. Crohn’s disease causes diarrhea. Cramping of the bowels can worsen this symptom.
Bloody stools. Crohn’s can cause blood in the stools. There may be fresh bright red blood or dark red blood in the stools. The doctor may find occult blood in a stool test. Occult blood cannot be seen.
Sores in the mouth. Sores may show up in your mouth that are like cold or canker sores.
Fatigue and low-grade fevers. An inflammatory response can causea low-grade fever. Some people also have fatigue and lack of energy during flares.
Weight loss. Crohn’s causes poorer absorption of the nutrients from food and may cause weight loss. Abdominal cramping can also lower your appetite and thus lead to weight loss.
Drainage. You may suffer symptoms of perianal disease that causes drainage near the anus. This can be painful.
Joint pain. Inflammation can also affect your joints and cause joint pain.