Crohn’s disease involves irritation and swelling of the digestive tract due to inflammation. The condition can have several different effects on the body, ranging from diarrhea and constipation to anemia and joint pain.

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. Many people with the condition experience gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as diarrhea. However, they may also experience various symptoms in other parts of the body.

Scientists do not exactly know what causes Crohn’s disease. It may involve an autoimmune reaction, which is when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues or cells. There may also be a link between certain genes and Crohn’s disease.

This article discusses the different effects of Crohn’s disease on the body. It also explores potential complications of the condition and when to consult doctor.

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Crohn’s disease occurs due to inflammation within the digestive system. This inflammation is most common in the small intestine and the first part of the large intestine. It may cause symptoms such as:

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease may also affect areas outside the GI tract. Other symptoms of Crohn’s disease may include:

Crohn’s disease can lead to several health complications. Although these vary between individuals, they may include:

According to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, many people with Crohn’s disease also develop anemia. This may occur as a result of blood loss in the intestines, inflammation, or nutritional deficiencies from Crohn’s disease.

The organization also states that individuals with Crohn’s disease have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Similar to anemia, the nutritional deficiencies and inflammation relating to Crohn’s disease can increase the risk of developing this condition. If a person takes systemic corticosteroids to manage Crohn’s disease, they may also have an increased risk of osteoporosis.

According to a 2022 case study, some individuals with Crohn’s disease may experience respiratory conditions such as interstitial lung disease.

Additionally, some research suggests that there may be a link between Crohn’s disease and psoriasis.

According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, some people with the condition may develop rare liver complications, such as cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis. The latter is a rare disease mainly affecting the bile ducts inside and outside the liver.

A 2017 study examined the neurological effects of Crohn’s disease. The study authors suggested that there may be a link between the condition and a number of different neurological conditions, such as peripheral neuropathy and polyneuropathy.

A 2023 overview of research also notes that other complications of Crohn’s disease may include colorectal cancer and thromboembolic disease. The latter can involve deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and stroke.

Anyone experiencing symptoms of Crohn’s disease needs to speak with a doctor. Common symptoms to look for include:

  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • abdominal cramps or discomfort
  • bloody stool
  • unexpected weight loss

Individuals with new or worsening symptoms also need to consult a medical professional who can assess any new symptom developments. They can then provide treatment recommendations for each individual.

People already receiving treatment for Crohn’s disease should also speak with a doctor if they experience new or worsening side effects. Additionally, treatment side effects vary. For example, steroid medications may cause mood changes, acne, or weight gain, while immunomodulators may cause nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.

A person needs to speak with a doctor about potential side effects before beginning a new treatment. After starting a treatment, they need to make sure to keep their doctor informed about any new or unexpected side effects.

Crohn’s disease can affect many different organs and systems throughout the body. It often causes GI symptoms such as diarrhea or cramping. However, it can also cause other symptoms such as fever and mouth ulcers.

In some cases, Crohn’s disease may also lead to health complications. These may include anemia, osteoporosis, and nutritional deficiencies.

A person needs to speak with a healthcare professional about any new or worsening symptoms. They should also make sure to let their doctor know about any side effects that occur during treatment.