Every person experiences Crohn's disease differently. (What is Crohn’s disease?) Some people have frequent occurrence of symptoms while others may have few, if any, symptoms. The symptoms of Crohn’s disease can range from mild to severe and may develop gradually or come on suddenly with no warning.
Diarrhea. The more inflamed the intestinal wall becomes, the harder it is for the intestine to absorb water. The excess fluid that can’t be absorbed travels through the intestine and leads to a loose stool and diarrhea. The diarrhea may also contain blood. See Anemia and fatigue below.
Abdominal pain. The abdominal pain and cramping is caused by the swelling of the intestinal passageways making it difficult for food to move through the intestines. In mild cases of Crohn’s disease the abdominal discomfort ranges between slight and moderate. In more severe cases the cramping and discomfort may also cause nausea and vomiting.
Loss of appetite and weight loss. As a result of the cramping and abdominal pain, there is often a loss of appetite. Due to fewer meals and calories consumed, some people may experience weight loss. The inflammation of the intestines also makes it more difficult for your body to digest and absorb food.
Anemia and fatigue. Rectal bleeding may also occur. As food moves through your inflamed digestive track it may cause tissue to bleed. This blood loss may possibly lead to anemia, which is a condition where there are not enough red blood cells. Anemia causes fatigue.
Ulcers. Ulcers, which are small sores, can form on the surface of your intestines. Over time these eventually become larger and penetrate into the intestinal walls leading to more discomfort.
Fistulas. The inflammation that accompanies Crohn’s disease may also cause a fistula to develop. A fistula is an abnormal connection between an organ, vessel, or intestine and another structure. In Crohn’s disease, a fistula typically will develop as a tunnel from one loop of intestine to another and most commonly occurs around the anal area. This might cause drainage of mucus or stool from the anal opening.
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