While researching and learning about Inflammatory Bowel Disease, one thing has continued to stand out amongst Crohn’s Disease patients – and that is, that the symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. It affects 700,000 Americans, and no two cases are the same. It affects men and women just the same, and is most commonly diagnosed between the ages 15-35. While the cause of Crohn’s Disease is not known, we do know that stress and diet will exacerbate symptoms. Research studies continue to progress, and have shown that genetics and environmental factors could play a role in causing Crohn’s Disease.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at the age of 20, and often heard Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis grouped together. It wasn’t until recently that I learned the difference. While Crohn’s can affect anywhere in the GI Tract, from the mouth to the rear end, Colitis only affects the colon. So while the symptoms of the two diseases are very similar, the locations of the inflammation are different. The symptoms you could expect to see are as follows:
- An urgent and frequent need to use the restroom
- Consistent diarrhea
- Pain and bleeding in the rectal area
- Fever – a high fever was always my first sign of a flare
- Losing weight – Malabsorption is a common side effect of Crohn’s
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Night Sweats – even when I’m not flaring – I have big issues with night sweats
- Fatigue – I often inexplicably feel tired and have to remind myself that sometimes my body just can’t do as much as I want it to do.
The important thing to remember is that every case of Crohn’s Disease is different. If you’re experiencing any number of these and feel you may have IBD, make sure you consult a doctor. There are specific tests that can diagnose the disease. If you have any other questions – please don’t be afraid to reach out. I’m more than happy to talk or provide support in any way that I can. Good luck to you! And remember – IBD can sometimes be hard to diagnose, so make sure you stick with it and take charge of your medical care. Be sure you keep track of your symptoms and even your diet. It will help a lot when you’re trying to pin down what aggravates your inflammation – if you do in fact end up having Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis.