If you have fibromyalgia, you may also be suffering from another debilitating disease, called Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease causes terrible gastrointestinal symptoms, like diarrhea, cramping, and irritable bowel syndrome. If you are having severe problems with your gastrointestinal tract, it is a good idea to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Speak with your health care provider to find out about appropriate treatments to help manage your symptoms.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is one of a group of diseases called the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). It causes severe inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s disease typically affects the small intestine, though it can attack anywhere throughout your digestive tract, from your anus to your mouth. Crohn’s disease causes painful and sometimes debilitating symptoms, and is also associated with a number of gastrointestinal complications.
Crohn’s disease currently affects more than 500,000 people in the United States. It affects both women and men equally. It is most likely to affect people in their teenage or young adult years, especially those between the ages of 15 and 35. There are a number of treatments available for Crohn’s sufferers, although there is no cure for the illness.
What Causes Crohn’s Disease?
Unfortunately, there is no clear consensus on what actually causes Crohn’s disease, but there are a number of theories as to its origins. Some theorists suggest that Crohn’s disease is the result of a foreign virus or bacteria invading the gastrointestinal tract. Others believe that the illness is actually the result of an immune system disorder, in which the body attacks healthy bacteria in its intestine.
Crohn’s disease does appear to have a biological component and researchers have recently identified a gene shared by most Crohn’s sufferers. This gene, called NOD2, may hold the clue to the cause of Crohn’s disease.
Fibromyalgia and Crohn’s Disease
Though not very common, some people with fibromyalgia symptoms also appear to have Crohn’s disease. They experience extreme gastrointestinal side effects, which may be the result of an immune system that has been compromised by fibromyalgia. The link between fibromyalgia and Crohn’s disease appears to be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a less serious form of IBD, and possibly a precursor to Crohn’s disease in some fibromyalgia patients.
Fibro can look like Crohn’s
Fibromyalgia patients can also suffer similar symptoms to some Crohn’s patients, including:
- muscle pain
- joint stiffness
- lower back pain
Crohn’s Disease Symptoms
There are a number of symptoms that can accompany Crohn’s disease, ranging from mild to severe. Depending upon where the inflammation is in your digestive tract, your may experience certain symptoms more than others.
Possible symptoms include:
- persistent diarrhea
- abdominal cramps, especially on the lower right side
- rectal bleeding
- swelling of anus
- ulcers in anus or rectum
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- skin problems
- eye complications
- muscle pain and stiffness
Crohn’s disease tends to appear in cycles. This means that you may experience a year or more of remission from your symptoms of Crohn’s disease. However, most patients experience relapses within four years of their initial flare up.
Complications of Crohn’s Disease
If you are noticing any symptoms of Crohn’s disease, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Crohn’s disease can lead to nutritional deficiencies and extreme weight loss, which can pose great health risks. It can also lead to blockages in your intestines, preventing your body from excreting waste.
Crohn’s Disease Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but there are a variety of treatments that can help to control your symptoms and restore your nutrition.
There are a number of Crohn’s disease medications available to help control symptoms and provide relief. These include:
- amino salicylates, which reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract
- corticosteroids, which suppress your immune system, preventing further inflammation
- antibiotics, which help to kill infections in ulcers
For those with more serious inflammation, surgery is often an option. Surgery cannot cure Crohn’s disease, but it can often trigger remission for a number of years.
Surgical options include:
- surgery to drain painful ulcers
- removal of parts of the intestine
- Colonostomy, during which your entire colon is removed