Inflammatory bowel disease: Symptoms
1. Pain in abdomen
Pain in the abdomen and cramping is observed in people affected with IBD. Due to inflammation and ulceration, the walls of the bowel may swell and virtually thicken with scar tissue. This hinders the normal bowel movement and obstructs contents of the digestive tract, causing pain and cramp. In case of mild Crohn’s disease, the pain is less due to less disruption in the intestine. However, the pain may be severe in chronic conditions and accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
In Proctosigmoiditis, wherein the rectum and the lower end of the colon is affected, abdominal cramps and pain, bloody diarrhea, and an inability to move the bowels (even though there is urge) are commonly observed. Severe internal cramps or spasms (in the pelvis region) may also be observed.
Diarrhea can be another symptom in IBD. Due to inflammation, the affected cells in the intestine secrete considerable quantities of salt and water. The colon cannot absorb the excess fluid, leading to diarrhea. The loose and watery stools can be frequently observed in people suffering from IBD. Diarrhea can also bring blood in stool. It can be disturbing to make frequent visits to the toilet, with most fluids passing out of the body making it weak.
Diarrhea can also arise out of severe intestinal cramping (which is another symptom of IBD). People suffering from Crohn’s disease frequently encounter diarrhea. In case of chronic diarrhea, infection causes should be considered for determining the appropriate treatment.
3. Blood in stool
Based on the food you eat, the stool can change color. But if there is no apparent reason for red or black stool, gastrointestinal tract bleeding can be the cause. Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause blood to frequently accompany stool. Bright red blood or darker blood can be noticed in the stool. Probable reason for blood is the food movement in the digestive tract. This movement may cause the inflamed tissue to bleed. The bowel can also bleed on its own, showing blood in the stool. Sometimes, blood can be there even if you cannot see it.
Bloating or distention can also be observed in IBD. Many people experience abdominal bloating, which can be the result of gas in the digestive tract. The condition can be painful and embarrassing. This uncomfortable condition can be commonly found in people with IBD. Keeping check over the food (which causes bloating) can help control the distressing situation. Food, which is known to cause gas, can be avoided to deal with the problem. For example, if chickpeas increase bloating, it is better to avoid them. Many people with inflammatory bowel disease experience bloating. This can restrict their public interactions, increase anxiety levels and also limit their wardrobe choices.
Ulcers can appear as another symptom of IBD. There can be small sores on intestinal surface, which can become large ulcers in due course of time. These ulcers can go deep into the intestinal walls, as in Crohn’s disease. Profuse bleeding can also arise out of the ulcers, indicating intestinal complications of the disease.
Ulcers can be found elsewhere, like in the mouth, which are similar to canker sores (aphthous stomatitis). They arise out of extra-intestinal conditions. Though not serious, these commonly found ulcers can be annoying and troubling. Besides the skin lumps or sores, swollen gums may also appear in IBD.
6. Loss of appetite and weight
Besides other symptoms, IBD can also result in reduction of appetite and weight. The bowel gets adversely affected by abdominal pain and inflammation. It is revealed through reduction in digestion and absorption of food. There is decrease in the desire to eat. Weight loss can also accompany other symptoms of IBD. The involuntary loss in weight, without any dieting and exercising, can bring discomfort in performing every day activities. The adversely affected bowel movement, which does not allow passage of stool (even though there is an urge) can repel you from eating anything; this can lead to loss in weight.
7. Extra intestinal indicators
IBD has extra intestinal involvement; there can be complications relating to other organs (than the intestines). People with IBD can have arthritis, skin problems, eye inflammations, liver and kidney disorders and bone loss. Among the extra intestinal complications, arthritis is the most prevalent. Relatively, only a small proportion of people experience these symptoms. Eye problems can affect vision. Skin, eye and joint problems can occur together.