Crohn’s Disease and Extra-Intestinal Problems, Part 4

Crohn’s Disease and Extra-Intestinal Problems, Part 4

Fourth in a series about Crohn’s disease and 
extra-intestinal problems and IBD-related symptoms. Read parts one here, two here, and three here.  

Crohn’s disease can lead to many other extra-intestinal complaints and ailments. As such, the fourth installment of this series will focus on additional problems or conditions that can happen in your other organs and blood.

With a diagnosis of Crohn’s or colitis, the bowels often aren’t the only part of the body to have inflammation. The entire body is often involved in the suffering.

(Graphics by Mary Horsley)

From top to bottom, Crohn’s disease and IBD can affect you anywhere. Complications can happen with any form of autoimmune disease through symptoms, sickness, or added complaints. Crohn’s patients — and all IBD sufferers — can experience extra-intestinal symptoms and sometimes other problems. As with any diagnosis, it could affect your body in several ways, and these extra-intestinal ailments are a few of the symptoms IBD patients can face after diagnosis. Extra-intestinal ailments involving the blood and the organs beyond the bowels can be life-changing and even life-threatening.

Medications, such as Imuran (azathioprine) or other biologics, can cause harm to liver and kidney functions. Beyond the bowels, other organs and systems are affected. From malnutrition to kidney stones, and gallbladder disease to colon cancer, IBD and Crohn’s disease can put you at risk.

(Graphics by Mary Horsley)

Organs: Liver, pancreatic, or gallbladder diseases can occur. Patients also may suffer deficiencies in nutrients, jaundice, and anemia with blood loss.

Women with Crohn’s disease can suffer changes in menstrual cycles. According to, 60% of women with IBD have from menstrual symptoms and problems that are affected by active Crohn’s inflammation.

Blood: In addition to blood loss and anemia with bowel-related issues, Crohn’s patients are at risk for problems such as blood clots and sepsis, weak veins, and multiple sticks. Inflammation tests are usually done regularly to maintain patient health and to check other body systems affected by Crohn’s.

I wrote a separate column focusing on sepsis in my series “Crohn’s Complications, Part Four,” as it is a very serious risk and an infection in the bloodstream. When the body responds to infection and when sepsis occurs, the body attacks itself while trying to heal. Sepsis, or even septic shock, can lead to organ failure, lack of oxygenated blood within the body, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, rapid heart rate, and even death.

As for me, I get blood work done before every appointment with a GI and the infusion labs. I know a lot of patients suffering from blood loss, and monitoring the other organs is the standard with the risks that come with IBD.

The list of “what-if” problems for Crohn’s disease is endless. With any diagnosis, each person has individual and unique symptoms. Some people experience more problems than others, and just because one person has a symptom does not mean all IBD warriors will have it.

My Crohn’s disease problems and experiences may be different from yours, but you never can be too prepared for the problems that could happen. With Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, for me, It Could Be Worse.


Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.

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