Life with Crohns and Colitis Online Support Group

Common and not so common symptoms

I think everybody is aware of the common symptoms of IBD:

  • vomiting.
  • rash.
  • eye inflammation.
  • arthritis.
  • mouth sores.
  • fatigue.
  • anemia.

BUT there are other symptoms that are not as commonly thought of;

Increased arthritis risk. Because of the inflammation associated with the disease, up to 25 percent of people with Crohn’s also develop arthritis, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Risk is highest in the larger joints, such as the knees, elbows, and wrists, which is called peripheral arthritis.Arthritis can show up anywhere in people with Crohn’s disease.Usually if the Crohn’s is treated, the arthritis improves as well.

Increased osteoporosis risk. People with Crohn’s disease are at higher risk for osteoporosis than the general population is.“The chronic inflammation of Crohn’s disease leads to increased bone loss, and people with Crohn’s are also more likely to be vitamin-D deficient, both which contribute to osteoporosis risk.

This vitamin D deficiency occurs partly because the portion of the bowel that absorbs vitamin D is diseased. Another contributor to an increased osteoporosis risk is steroid use, specifically the drug prednisone, which thins the bones. Prior to the 1990s, there weren’t many therapies for Crohn’s disease outside of prednisone, so many people with Crohn’s disease who are older in age received a lot of this drug and now have osteoporosis… Prednisone is still used as a temporary therapy for moderate to severe Crohn’s when other treatments don’t work, increasing osteoporosis risk in some younger people with the condition as well.

To reduce the risk for osteoporosis:

  • Avoid prolonged use of prednisone
  • Perform regular weight-bearing exercises
  • Avoid smoking
  • Minimize alcohol and caffeine
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Get your vitamin D levels checked and have regular bone density tests.

Skin conditions. Crohn’s disease can cause certain skin conditions, including erythema nodosum, which is characterized by tender red nodules on the legs and shins, and pyoderma gangrenosum, which are large painful ulcers. These skin conditions are caused by the inflammatory process of Crohn’s disease, and the treatment for them is to treat the Crohn’s disease, sometimes along with topical therapy by a dermatologist. Another possible skin condition is psoriasis. Although psoriasis appears to be a skin disease because of its red patches covered with silvery scales, it’s actually an inflammatory disease. It’s also linked to arthritis and Crohn’s disease by way of psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory joint disease that can cause bone and joint damage.

Anemia and Fatigue This results because of blood loss and inflammation. Vitamin D deficiency can also contribute to fatigue

Depression IBD can also be associated with depression, which is common in people with chronic conditions. Fatigue also compounds depression

Canker sores. While mouth sores aren’t a common symptom of Crohn’s disease, Crohn’s inflammation can involve any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the rectum. "Severe oral involvement may present with aphthous ulcers [canker sores] or pain in the mouth and gums. These painful mouth sores usually occur during Crohn’s flares and appear on the gums or the underside of the tongue. In addition to regular Crohn’s treatment, oral pain-relief rinses or gels, an oral antibiotic rinse, or corticosteroids may help.

Fever and infection. “Fever can be a symptom of Crohn’s disease because of the low-grade inflammation associated with the disease. A fever is particularly concerning if someone is taking drugs for Crohn’s that suppress the immune system.

Abdominal Abscesses Some people with severe Crohn’s disease can develop abdominal abscesses from the inflammation extending through the wall of the intestine to the abdominal cavity. Patients on immunosuppressive medications are particularly at risk for certain fungal infections and reactivation of tuberculosis. If you have a fever over 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit, you should contact your gastroenterologist right away. If the source of the fever is an infection, you’ll likely be treated with antibiotics.

Eye infections. “There are two types of eye conditions that can occur in people with Crohn’s disease, and both are emergencies. The first is episcleritis, which is irritation and inflammation of the episclera, a thin layer of tissue that covers the white part of the eye. Episcleritis is extremely painful, and it makes the eye very red… The second is uveitis, which is inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye. Uveitis causes distinct pain," Kaur says. .oms, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Both eye conditions are rare, but if you have Crohn’s disease and experience any eye pain or redness, call your doctor or head to the emergency room right away.”

If you have Crohn’s disease and experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor promptly to get the care you need.