Gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea: You’re probably all-too familiar with these common Crohn’s disease symptoms, especially if they strike on a regular basis. Yet because Crohn’s disease is a systemic or whole-body condition, its symptoms could extend beyond your digestive system.
“Crohn’s disease is a body-wide disease that is caused by excessive inflammation,” says Nirmal Kaur, MD, director of the inflammatory bowel disease center at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. “Some people with Crohn’s disease only have inflammation in the bowel, but about 30 percent to 40 percent of people have what are called extra-intestinal manifestations, or Crohn’s disease symptoms outside of their gastrointestinal tract.”
In most cases, the treatments for non-digestive symptoms of Crohn’s are the same as the treatment for bowel-related symptoms: primarily medication. These medications may include aminosalicylates (for mild cases), immunosuppressive agents, biologic therapies, and corticosteroids. For most people, they work well for all Crohn’s symptoms. “Most people notice that when their digestive Crohn’s disease symptoms are treated, their non-digestive symptoms get better as well,” Dr. Kaur says.