You’re experiencing a flare-up. You immediately recognize it as a sign of a gastrointestinal (GI) flare. However, there are other signs that you may not expect that can be a warning that your Crohn’s disease may be getting worse.
Are You Having a Crohn’s Disease Flare?
Are you dealing with potentially active Crohn’s disease? According to Joseph Feuerstein, MD, an attending gastroenterologist at the Center for inflammatory bowel disease at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, you have active Crohn’s disease if you are experiencing the following:
- GI bleeding
- Bowel obstruction accompanied by nausea, vomiting, not passing gas, and bloating
If you are having a flare, you may experience multiple symptoms at the same time. “It would be unusual, though, for any one of these symptoms on its own to be a sign of a Crohn’s flare,” Dr. Feuerstein tells Everyday Health.
If you experience multiple symptoms, you should see a doctor to be evaluated.
A loss of appetite and abdominal pain coupled with nausea or vomiting could be a sign of strictures (narrow passageways caused by thickening or scarring of the bowel walls).
If you experience a fistula ( an abnormal connection or passage from the bowel into other tissues or organs) accompanied by fever, night sweats and weight loss, the fistula may be infected.
Unexpected Signs of a Crohn’s Disease Flare
Approximately 40 percent of people with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, experience extraintestinal manifestations (EIMs): symptoms that occur outside the GI system, Everyday Health notes. Although the causes of EIMs are unclear research suggests a genetic predisposition may be the culprit.
The following are some common EIMs.
Inflammation of the joints is the most common EIM, affecting up to 30 percent of people with Crohn’s, according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. “Arthritis can affect the joints or the axial skeleton [the bones of the head and trunk],” Feuerstein explains. Arthritis can flare up along with Crohn’s disease activity or manifest as a more chronic condition that starts with a flare but then lingers.
In most cases arthritis gets better as intestinal symptoms improve. However, chronic arthritis is more difficult to treat.
“For immediate symptomatic relief, we always first recommend trying acetaminophen,” Feuerstein tells Everyday Health. You should avoid