Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of columns by Mary Horsley about IBD-related symptoms that are “Beyond the Bathroom.” Read Part One here.
Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis often cause problems outside of the restroom. To begin the “Beyond the Bathroom'” series, we kind of have to start with a few bathroom symptoms, like diarrhea and bloody stools, in order to get to the outside symptoms we suffer, like stomach pain, fatigue and anemia.
For me, that’s how it began. I saw bright red blood one day, and I started having diarrhea that never quite went away, not even now, three years later. In the beginning, I suffered no pain, no fatigue, just that shock from seeing red the first few times. Later, my stomach constantly ached. I began to be fatigued with every movement, and seeing red was no longer as horrifying.
While some suffer diarrhea, others can suffer from constipation. Some have bright red blood (newer blood), others will see black, tarry stools (from older bleeding), or they can even see visible mucus at times.
For some patients, this recurring diarrhea or bowel habit means food travels through the body too quickly, or too slowly, or there’s inflammation somewhere in the digestive system. This can help to cause a number of other ills, such as malnutrition, weight loss, and dehydration, which ultimately can lead to a lack of energy and fatigue.
To add to the symptom of fatigue that certain Crohn’s patients feel, some patients suffer this even more once they find blood in their stools, leading to an iron deficiency, or anemia, showing in blood tests.
Some patients have these problems daily over long periods of time. Symptoms inside and beyond the bathroom alike further create more problems, like intestinal cramping and sleep issues, rectal pain and stomach bloating, vomiting insomnia. The list of “what if” symptoms you could face is endless.
With any diagnosis, there are a number of ways it will affect your body, with these being just a few of the symptoms IBD patients can face. Part Three of the “Beyond the Bathroom” series will discuss more of the lesser-known symptoms, like joint and muscle pain, depression and skin sores.
As with any diagnosis, each person will suffer symptoms individual to them. Some will experience more problems than others, and just because one person has a symptom, does not mean all IBD warriors will suffer from the same ones.
There may be many problems your fellow Crohn’s disease and colitis patients face, and this series will discuss a plethora of these awful symptoms that occur “Beyond the Bathroom.”
My experiences may be different than yours, but you never can be too prepared for what could happen with Crohn’s or colitis, because for me, It Could Be Worse.