Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are collectively known as irritable bowel disease (IBD). These two conditions cause serious inflammation in your digestive tract. IBD flare-ups are characterized by symptoms like diarrhea, fatigue, abdominal pain, unintended weight loss, and blood in the stool.
If these symptoms aren’t bad enough, you’re also subject to possible long-term complications that can disrupt your quality of life and health. At GastroDoxs in Cypress, Texas, our experienced gastroenterologist, Bharat Pothuri, MD, diagnoses and helps you manage your IBD. He can also help prevent complications, and if they should arise, he can help minimize their impact on your health.
These are the complications he (and you) should watch for if you have IBD.
General IBD complications
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can both cause some similar complications. Autoimmune responses like inflammation of the eyes, skin, or joints may occur alongside IBD. This inflammation may look like a bout of arthritis, skin rashes, and uveitis, which causes eye redness, pain and blurred vision.
People with IBD are also at a greater risk of developing blood clots in their veins and arteries. Scarring within the bile ducts, eventually resulting in long-term liver damage, is also possible.
The damage IBD does to your colon increases your risk of developing colon cancer. Dr. Pothuri monitors your colon health through regular colonoscopies. He usually begins these screenings about 8-10 years after your diagnosis, regardless of your age.
Crohn’s disease complications
Crohn’s disease causes inflammation in the deep layers of your digestive tract. This inflammation can cause parts of your bowel to thicken and narrow, obstructing the flow of your digestive contents. If you experience a bowel obstruction, you may need surgery to remove the damaged area of your colon.
Crohn's disease causes symptoms like diarrhea, cramping, and serious abdominal pain that make it hard for you to enjoy food, let alone eat a healthy diet. Your system doesn’t effectively absorb nutrients, even if you can get in enough food. You’re vulnerable to developing iron-deficiency anemia and pernicious anemia -- a deficiency in vitamin B-12 -- and other nutrient deficiencies.
If your Crohn’s disease causes inflammation that extends through your intestinal wall, you can develop a fistula around the anal area. When a fistula becomes infected and forms an abscess, you experience serious pain.
Anal fissures are also relatively common in people with Crohn’s disease. Small tears develop in the tissue around your anus, making your bowel movements quite painful.
Ulcerative colitis complications
Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulcers to develop on the outermost lining of your colon and recutm. A condition known as toxic megacolon may develop as a result. This condition causes your colon to swell excessively and rapidly, potentially leading to a perforated colon. A perforated colon can also occur even if you don’t have toxic megacolon.
Because one of the major symptoms of ulcerative colitis is diarrhea, people with the condition are subject to severe dehydration. Dr. Pothuri can help you manage your fluid intake and provide other management techniques.
Dr. Pothuri offers his expert care to patients with IBD who live in the greater Houston, Texas, area. If you’ve been diagnosed with IBD or have symptoms that suggest it, contact GastroDoxs to get started with care and management. Our goal is to help you maintain optimal digestive health.