Crohns disease affects the digestive system or gut causing inflammation. The most common place in the digestive system where Crohns affects is the ileum, which is where I have it. The ileum is the last part of the small intestine before the colon.
The areas of inflammation can be sparse with areas of healthy gut in between. The inflamed parts of the intestine may only be 1-2cm, but it could also extend to the length of the gut.
Crohns affects the lining of the bowel, but can also go deeper into the bowel wall.
It is a chronic condition, which means I will always suffer and it will never go away. There is no current cure for any form of IBD. IBD can go into remission, this is where you are symptom free for a period of time, or the symptoms can come back, which is known as a flare up or relapse.
Crohns Disease is one of the two main forms of IBD. The other is Ulcerative Colitis.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms for someone suffering with Crohns can differ person to person. My main symptoms are chronic fatigue, stomach cramps/abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Other symptoms can include mouth ulcers, anaemia, loss of appetite, weight loss and a feeling of being generally unwell.
Symptoms can last hours, days or months. At the tail end of 2016, I had 5 hospital admissions totally 26 days as my symptoms would not subside, until they got me onto the correct medication.
Who does it affect?
Crohns Disease affects around 115,000 people in the UK, with millions more worldwide. It has been noted that Crohns normally first presents itself between the ages of 10 and 40 and it more common in women than men. Smokers also have a higher risk of developing Crohns.
Is there a cure?
As it stands, there is no known cure for IBD despite research. It is known that it could be a contribution of factors which leads to someone developing IBD, such as;
- An abnormal reaction of your immune system to certain bacteria in your intestines
- An unknown trigger, such as viruses, bacteria, diet, smoking or stress.
Complications of Crohns
More problems can present in the gut, or different parts of the body. For instance I suffer with extreme joint pain and fatigue, but someone wouldn’t think that this could be linked with Crohns.
A variety of other health conditions can be associated with Crohn’s Disease, including:
- skin problems, such as mouth ulcers, blisters and ulcers on the skin, and painful red swellings, usually on the legs
- inflammation of the eyes
- thinner and weaker bones
- liver inflammation
All in all, it isn’t pleasant. Crohns is a life long commitment that we have to keep, until one day there is a cure.
Some information taken from Crohns and Colitis UK
Words by Jack Sawyer