My Early Signs of Crohn's Disease
Last updated: April 2023
I sometimes get asked: how did you know you had Crohn's disease? And the answer is, I didn't. I had no clue what was going on in my body and I had no idea what Crohn's disease was until the gastroenterologist diagnosed me.
The symptoms that led to my Crohn's diagnosis
However, since I get this question often, I thought I would compile a little list of the symptoms that occurred leading up to my diagnosis. Of course, everyone is different and experiences different symptoms, since Crohn's can affect the digestive system anywhere from the mouth to the anus. So you can imagine, depending on where Crohn's is active will greatly impact what symptoms you feel.
For me personally, from the moment I was diagnosed in 2011, my Crohn's has always only been active in my colon and slightly in the ilium, never elsewhere. So here are the symptoms that I experienced leading up to the diagnosis:
About a year or two before I was diagnosed, I had psoriasis on the bottom of my hand. It eventually went away, but I am convinced that perhaps there was a correlation and a sign that something was brewing in my body since psoriasis is also autoimmune in nature.
I dealt with major constipation about a year before I was diagnosed. There were some days where I didn't even have a bowel movement because I was so backed up. Eventually, I would have a bowel movement, but it was something I dealt with daily.
3. Soft stool/urgency
Leading up closer to when I was diagnosed, probably 6 months before, I started dealing with loose stools and they were putrid smelling. I knew something was going on, but I figured I was just processing food that didn't sit well.
I didn't have the urgency where I had to run to the restroom or else I would have an accident, but it felt like any time I went to the bathroom to relieve my bladder, I was always having a bowel movement with loose stool. This was foreign to me since I usually dealt with constipation.
I wouldn't have pain or cramping, it was just a weird situation where if I happened to be in a restroom I would have the urge to go all the time.
4. Bloody diarrhea
Probably a month before I was diagnosed was when the painful, bloody diarrhea set in. I was so alarmed when I first saw blood in the toilet, it really scared me and that's when I knew something was wrong.
5. Fever and swollen ankles
Once diarrhea hit, soon came fever and even swollen ankles. I was already seeing a gastro at this point and waiting for a colonoscopy which would be my first ever.
Everything accelerated quickly in my case. It was in this short time while I was waiting for my colonoscopy procedure that the fever and swollen ankles set in.
6. Nausea and fatigue
Along with the fever and swelling came nausea, vomiting, and intense fatigue. I was absolutely miserable and at this point couldn't get out of bed without struggling. Thankfully my colonoscopy came and right away I was diagnosed with Crohn's.
What were your early symptoms before you were diagnosed with Crohn's disease? Share below, as I imagine we all experienced something different.
What has been the most helpful for managing IBD symptoms?