Are Weight Issues with Crohn's a Thing?
One thing I really hate is the constant weight change that I have gone through over the last eight years. When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s, I was 165 pounds. I was twenty-one years old, and I wasn’t eating the healthiest foods up at Shippensburg.
Weight gain as a side effect of steroids
When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s the doctors put me on Prednisone. This is a medication often used as a “Band-Aid.” It is a steroid, used to decrease inflammation. In this case, it was used to calm things down in my stomach. The one of many side effects of medical steroids is the weight you gain from it.
I put on so much weight in the first few weeks of being on Prednisone, that I had to go out and buy new clothes. I had to get bigger sizes to accommodate my body.
Later that year, when I started to really get sick, I was losing so much weight. So there I was again, buying smaller clothes to accommodate my body that was now losing weight.
Buying new clothes to accommodate weight changes
It was becoming a money issue. I found myself constantly buying new clothes. I wondered if any other Crohn’s patients were going through the same thing. When I went into the hospital for my 371 consecutive day stay, I went down to a measly 82 pounds. Can you imagine!
I was twenty-two years old, and I was less than one hundred pounds. I remember my mother buying small tee shirts for me. When I lost all that weight, my feet actually shrunk. You were able to see my bones. I looked malnourished.
It took me a while to gain my weight back. My albumin levels, which are basically how much nutrition my body maintains was very low. The blood test at one time showed it at .4. The normal albumin level is 4. I think back about how I looked back in 2008. I hope that I never go through that again.
These days, I am back to my normal weight. A few months ago, my primary doctor actually told me that I was a tad overweight. I had to laugh at him, and say: “Are you kidding me?” He was not. For the first time in eight years, I actually had to voluntarily lose weight.
How to handle all the weight changes
So how do you handle all these weight changes? I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really know! I can’t seem to wrap my head around it. Currently, I am at a healthy weight.
But what happens if I get a “flare” and have to be put on steroids once again? I’ll most likely gain more weight, and I’ll be buying clothes again. I have also begun saving my clothes and storing them in the attic. This way, if I drop weight, I won’t have to spend as much money.
I believe there are misconceptions about what people think about Crohn’s patients and weight issues. I think most people believe that Crohn’s patients can never be overweight. I don’t believe that is true.
I think Crohn’s patients have to be overly cautious about their weight. Obviously you don’t want to be too skinny or too heavy. I have reached out to a nutritionist to make sure I was able to keep my weight at a “healthy stage.” I recommend that all Crohn’s patients seek that type of help. Word to the wise: It doesn’t hurt to ask for help.
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