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Symptoms Of Crohn's Disease

By: Jody Ehrhardt - Updated: 11 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Crohn's Disease Digestive Disorder

Crohn's Disease is one type of digestive disorder that falls under the category of inflammatory bowel diseases. In Crohn's Disease the inflammation and irritation characterised by these disorders is mostly located in the lower part of the small intestine. While the condition can lead to many symptoms including swelling and stomach upset, there are three main symptoms that distinguish Crohn's Disease from the other digestive disorders.

The Three Most Common Symptoms of Crohn's Disease

In all cases of Crohn's Disease there are three symptoms that are always present- diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal pain. Diarrhoea occurs when the swelling and inflammation of the small intestine interferes with the organ's ability to process and breakdown food particles properly. When the small intestine is unable to pull enough water from the food watery, loose stools are produced. Individuals who have been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease suffer from frequent bouts of diarrhoea (and in some cases stool that is mixed with thick, dark blood), and increased bowel movements.

Fever is also a common symptom of Crohn's Disease due to the presence of inflammation in the small intestine. When inflammation is present in the body the immune system attacks the irritation in an attempt to rid the body of illness. This attack is characterised by an increase in overall body temperature. Depending on the severity of the condition and the frequency of digestive flare-ups, the degree of the fever can vary. During acute attacks fevers are higher, and between attacks most individuals run a persistent, low-grade fever.

The last common symptom of Crohn's Disease, abdominal pain, varies depending on which area of the small intestine is most affected by the disease. Inflammation in the area where the small intestine meets the large intestine results in a sharp pain, where as inflammation in the colon produces a cramping sensation, and an achy, milder pain.

Other Possible Symptoms Of Crohn's Disease

Aside from the three main symptoms of Crohn's Disease individuals may also experience weight loss, loss of appetite, feelings of fatigue, and rectal bleeding. The weight loss, loss of appetite, and fatigue are usually caused by the sufferer's inability to process food properly. Without proper nutrition and calories patients lose weight and lack the stored energy to power most activities. Repeated abdominal pain can cause patients to avoid eating, or interfere with the stomach's normal hunger signals.

Crohn's Disease Symptoms Outside the Gastrointestinal Tract

Crohn's Disease does not only affect the digestive tract, it can also produce symptoms in other parts of the body. These symptoms usually accompany the digestive symptoms of Crohn's but can appear weeks before an intestinal flare-up. These symptoms include anaemia, arthritis (or general joint pain), skin lesions, ulsers of the mouth, and inflammation of the eye.

Tracking Your Symptoms

Since the symptoms of Crohn's Disease are very similar to those of many different inflammatory bowel diseases it is best to track your symptoms for a few weeks before seeing a doctor. Your doctor can use your symptom information to distinguish between the possible disorders that could be causing your symptoms in order to reach a more accurate diagnosis.

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