Crohn’s disease is a lifelong condition that causes inflammation of parts of the digestive system.
It is estimated that over 155,000 adults in the UK are currently living with it.
Although sufferers experience periods of good health, there are flare-ups when symptoms are more active.
The main symptoms are digestive problems – such as diarrhea and stomach cramps – but those affected also experience fatigue and weight loss.
It’s one of the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease — the other is a condition known as ulcerative colitis.
The symptoms, which get worse over time, can also appear in other parts of the body.
From your eyes to your skin and joints, here you can see the silent symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
1. Your eyes
Eye problems may actually affect some people with Crohn’s disease.
Accordingly, episcleritis is the most common disease affecting Crohn’s disease patients NHS Foundation Trust of York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals.
This affects the layer of tissue that covers the sclera — the white outer covering of the eye — making it red, sore, and inflamed.
Episcleritis can occur at the same time as digestive problems.
But there are two other eye conditions associated with Crohn’s disease: scleritis – when the sclera itself is inflamed – and uveitis.
This causes inflammation of the iris, the colored part of your eye.
2. Your skin
The most common skin problem in people with Crohn’s disease is erythema nodosum.
This usually appears on sufferers’ legs in the form of raised red and purple swellings that are tender.
According to York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals, it is more common in women than men, affecting one in seven people affected.
Erythema nodosum tends to occur with flares of Crohn’s disease but may improve with treatment.
Less commonly, people with Crohn’s disease are affected by a condition called pyoderma gangrenosum.
This starts with small, tender blisters or pustules that grow into painful, deep sores. They can appear anywhere on the skin, but most commonly they appear on the shins or near the stoma, if present.
Sometimes it is accompanied by a flare-up of symptoms, but not always.
3. Your mouth
Chron can occasionally infect the mouth of humans.
This variant of the disease is often referred to as “orofacial granulomatosis” and is more likely to affect children, although it is rare.
Typically, there is swollen lips and cracking in the mouth, but some people with Crohn’s disease can develop mouth ulcers during flare-ups.
4. Your joints
A common complication of Crohn’s disease is inflamed joints, known as arthritis.
It is most common when Crohn’s disease affects the large intestine, which is known as Crohn’s disease.
The large joints in your arms and legs — including your elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles — are likely to be inflamed and painful.
However, these symptoms usually improve when people treat their bowel problems, and there is usually no permanent damage to the joints.
In some cases there is inflammation of the joints of the spine and pelvis – this is a condition called ankylosing spondylitis or sacroiliitis in its less severe form.
This can occur independently of Crohn’s disease and often results in pain in the joints on either side of the lower part of the spine. Stiffness and pain in the spine itself can eventually lead to a loss of flexibility.
5. Your liver
One in 50 people with Crohn’s disease will be affected by a rare condition called primary sclerosing cholangitis, in which the bile ducts inside and outside the liver become progressively smaller due to inflammation and scarring.
Symptoms include fatigue, itching, jaundice, and weight loss.
What are the most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
Common symptoms include recurring diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps—usually worse after eating, and extreme tiredness.
Unintentional weight loss and blood and mucus in the stool are also common symptoms.
People may only experience one of the above symptoms, which can range from mild to severe.
There may also be weeks or months when symptoms are mild or absent.
Symptoms, which are less common, include a high temperature, nausea and vomiting, joint pain and swelling, inflammation and irritation of the eyes, and mouth ulcers.
If you have persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, or blood in your stools, see your GP.