Crohns Disease Symptoms

Written by Jacey Harmon
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Before we delve into the symptoms common with Crohn's disease, let's discuss what exactly the disease does. Crohn's disease belongs to the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) family. It can affect any area of the gastrointestinal tract, but it most commonly affects the small intestine and/or the colon. The disease causes the immune system to treat otherwise harmless items-food, common bacteria-as foreign threats. The immune system then releases white blood cells into the lining of the intestines. The white blood cells cause intestinal inflammation, then they release harmful products which lead to many of the common symptoms of Crohn's disease.

Symptoms of Crohn's Disease

As one would expect with an intestinal disease, Crohn's disease symptoms have to do with the digestive tract. Persistent diarrhea--loose, watery bowel movements--is a common symptom of Crohn's disease. Diarrhea alone isn't enough to get worried about having Crohn's disease; but combined with symptoms such as--abdominal cramps, fever, and rectal bleeding--one should get checked out by a doctor.

In some cases, patients develop fissures on the lining of the anus. These tears can cause pain and bleeding, especially during bowel movements. The inflammation caused by Crohn's disease can lead to the development of a fistula. A fistula is a tunnel that connects one intestinal loop to another; or it can attach the intestine to the vagina, bladder, or skin. Fistulas commonly occur around the anus and will likely include drainage of mucus, pus, or stool from the opening.

Not all Crohn's symptoms are limited to the intestinal area of the body. In children, lack of growth and slow sexual development are symptoms of Crohn's disease. The disease can also affect joints, eyes, skin, and the liver as well as cause general fatigue. The identification of other, non-gastrointestinal, symptoms supports the theory that Crohn's disease may be caused by a bacteria in the gut, which releases toxins that attack the intestines. Researchers believe the toxin is absorbed into the blood stream.

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