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Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune condition that affects the whole digestive system (GI). Because it is an inflammatory disorder, it can create significant issues in other parts of the body as well.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a category of intestinal illnesses that induce digestive tract inflammation. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are two of the most well-known of these disorders. IBD affects 1 to 1.3 million people in the United States, and it is estimated that 780,000 Americans have Crohn’s disease.

The primary distinction between the two is that ulcerative colitis affects only the colon, whereas Crohn’s affects the entire digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus, making Crohn’s patients vulnerable to a wide range of physical and mental difficulties.

Digestive difficulties, abdominal pain, and weight loss are common Crohn’s symptoms. The disease is potentially fatal in severe situations. Crohn’s disease patients typically experience flare-ups of disease activity followed by a period of remission. Remissions might be temporary or long-term.

Crohn’s disease has no cure, but there are various lifestyle changes and medicines that can improve quality of life and enhance the odds of a prolonged remission.

System of digestion

Crohn’s disease mostly affects the digestive tract. The lower section of the small intestine (ileum) is the most prevalent site of disease activity. Inflammation can also cause edema and thickness in other sections of the intestines. Thick scar tissue can eventually constrict the lumen or completely obstruct the bowel. If this occurs, you may require surgery to remove a portion of your bowel.

Ulcers can form anywhere in the digestive tract, including the intestinal wall.

Fistulas are irregular pathways that can form between different parts of the colon or between the bowel and the bladder, anus, vagina, or skin. This allows bowel contents to bypass a portion of the intestines. It may result in nutritional malabsorption. Fistulas that lead to the skin might cause intestinal discharge to collect on your skin.

Fistulas affect approximately 30% of Crohn’s patients. Fistulas increase the chances of infection and abscess formation.

Crohn’s disease patients may also develop anal fissures, or small tears in the anal canal lining. Cracking, bleeding, pain, and itching can all result from fissures.

Chronic diarrhea, paired with inadequate food absorption, can result in vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition.

Crohn’s disease raises the risk of kidney stones, gallstones, fever, and liver damage. Flare-ups can develop canker sores in the mouth, which usually go away with the gastrointestinal symptoms.

People who have Crohn’s disease are also more likely to acquire colon cancer.

Mental and emotional well-being

The body and mind are inextricably linked, and Crohn’s disease symptoms can cause mental distress. While the fundamental cause of Crohn’s disease is not emotional, flare-ups can occur during emotionally difficult situations. Coping with a significant chronic condition is stressful enough, so it’s critical to keep an eye on stress and emotional levels.

The circulatory system

Anemia can be caused by poor iron absorption. Iron deficiency anemia, if left untreated, can cause cardiac problems such as rapid or irregular pulse. You may develop an enlarged heart or heart failure over time. Iron deficiency during pregnancy is linked to premature birth and low birth weight. Anemia can cause growth and development delays in children.

IBD increases the risk of getting a blood clot in a deep vein (deep vein thrombosis) or a clot that plugs a lung artery (pulmonary embolism) by threefold. This risk may be increased if you are hospitalized.

Corticosteroids, which are used to treat Crohn’s disease, may increase your chances of getting high blood pressure. Crohn’s disease is occasionally treated with immunomodulators and biologic treatments. Immunosuppressive drugs may raise the risk of lymphoma, a kind of blood cancer.

The skeletal system

Crohn’s disease, in general, does not weaken bones, but patients can experience associated difficulties, with or without inflammation.

Arthralgia affects about 10% to 20% of persons with IBD. These joint aches and pains are not caused by inflammation or joint injury. Arthritis affects approximately 30% of patients with IBD. Inflammation causes this form of joint pain. Arthritis can cause joint stiffness and irreversible joint damage.

Doctors may not be able to detect if your arthritis is caused by Crohn’s disease at first. When it is, your symptoms normally improve along with your digestive problems. Corticosteroids may raise your risk of bone fractures, joint discomfort and swelling, and osteoporosis if you are being treated for Crohn’s disease.

Central nervous system (eyes)

About 10% of persons with IBD suffer vision difficulties. The most frequent of them is uveitis, or inflammation of the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye wall. This can result in:

sensitivity to light and pain

redness blurry vision

When Crohn’s disease is under control, symptoms normally improve.

The skin (the integumentary system)

Crohn’s disease patients are at a slightly higher risk of developing erhthema nodosum or pyoderma gangrenosum on their ankles, shins, or arms.

Erhthema nodosum is characterized by the appearance of red pimples on the skin. Pyoderma gangrenosum is characterized by the development of pus and severe ulcerations on the skin. Both usually go away along with the other symptoms of a Crohn’s flare-up.


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