crohns disease

16 Things Only People With Crohn’s Disease Know

“Most days I feel like I’ve been hit by a train.”

Written by Ailbhe Malone

1. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disorder that affects your gut, or any part of the digestive system.

“The most common sites for inflammation are the lower part of the small bowel and the large bowel,” gastroenterologist Professor Chris Probert says.

“The inflammation leads to ulceration; the ulceration leads to pain and loss of function. That loss of function means the patient has diarrhoea and they may have malabsorption. If the inflammation is in the large bowel, if they have Crohn’s and colitis then they can bleed. So the inflamed bowel causes severe pain, diarrhoea (often with blood). Other symptoms can include extreme fatigue, and dramatic weight loss.”

2. Crohn’s is not the same as colitis, although both are types of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). And neither are the same as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

“There are a lot of similarities [between Crohn’s Disease and] colitis, but there are subtle differences. The genes overlap, but they’re not the same. There are different environmental factors. People who smoke are more likely to get Crohn’s disease, and people who are nonsmokers are more likely to get ulcerative colitis. But most children don’t smoke, and yet they get more Crohn’s disease than ulcerative colitis. So it’s not straightforward.

“As regards IBS, IBD and IBS are chalk and cheese. About 1 in 5 people have IBS – they will have bloating and diarrhoea and it’s unpleasant. This usually occurs in the context of stress and eating foods. But the bowel is not damaged. In Crohn’s disease, the symptoms are worse – they’re lifelong and it requires potent medication and surgery. IBS, don’t get me wrong, it can be really nasty. But it isn’t the same as IBD.” – Professor Chris Probert

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