Crohn’s disease is an auto-immune disease that affects any part of the digestive system, but it is most commonly found in the small or large intestines. There is no known cause, but it is thought that the inflammation that occurs is the root of all the problems a patient experiences. You may find that after you get one problem sorted out, another complication of Crohn’s disease will pop up giving you a whole new set of worries. There are quite a few different complications a patient can expect, but it is often hard to know what will happen next.
Probably the most troubling complication of Crohn’s disease is tears that can occur in the lower intestine and the anus. These can bleed, and when they do, you’ll notice blood in the stool and sometimes, a fair amount of pain when having a bowel movement.
These tears can develop into fistulas, which are like tunnels through the intestine walls, and they often connect the intestines to another internal organ such as the bladder or through muscle to the skin surface. Fistulas are a pretty serious complication of Crohn’s and need to be dealt with as soon as possible.
Another complication of Crohn’s disease is intestinal blockage. This usually happens when inflammation is at its worst, and when scar tissue has formed, reducing the size of the passage through the intestines.
The blockage stops foods from moving through, and the patient will probably experience severe cramping, and may vomit. There may also be some noticeable bloating in the abdominal area. On occasion, medication can relieve some of the blockage, but when it is severe, surgery might be the only option. Surgery might also be recommended if having blockages is a common occurrence for the patient.
Another very common problem for those with Crohn’s disease is a loss of nutritional value. They may be eating plenty of the right foods, but the body is simply not able to use it because of the damage to the intestines. This means the calories and nutrients are not being absorbed, or that the food is moving through the system too fast (as in diarrhea) for the intestines to work properly.
When the body is not getting what it needs, there can be problems with weight loss, weakness, and an overall decline in quality of life. This can often be rectified with an altered diet and some vitamin supplements, but neither should be done without the advice of a doctor.
When you experience a complication of Crohn’s disease, it is important that you report it to your doctor right away so preventative measures can be taken. Each case is different, and that means you might be confused about when to call your doctor and when to tough it out.
You should always err on the side of caution and contact someone who can help you. It is far better to be overly protective of yourself rather than let a potentially serious complication of Crohn’s go untreated. Your health may be going on a steady decline as a complication arises, but you should feel much better once your doctor has helped you understand what is going on, and taken measures to fix the issue.
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