IBD Awareness Week

IBD symptoms you might not know about

Day 1 Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week

Day 2 5 day to day fears with IBD

Day 3 Isolation and the importance of a friend

Day 4 IBD and anxiety

Day 5 – Part 1

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(picture taken from the Crohn’s and colitis UK Facebook page where you can find more information and keep up to date with news)

Even if you only know little about IBD, you would probably know about the most common symptoms, stomach cramps and diarrhoea. But there are many other symptoms you might not be aware of. Crohn’s and colitis have varying symptoms, plus these diseases are different for every patient. In this post I’m going to talk about my own symptoms which I experience with Ulcerative colitis.

Yes, I suffer badly with excruciating stomach pains and chronic diarrhoea, which is full of blood and mucus. At my worst I can be on the toilet 20+ times (It’s hard to keep count) and sometimes this will just mean an onslaught of blood, so that you think you have bled out. Along with this, I have urgency, meaning when I’m flared up I can never be too far away from a toilet. Even having to climb the stairs can put me too far from the toilet.

A common symptom for me, due to the blood loss and malnutrition, is iron deficiency anaemia. It’s difficult to explain how hard it is to cope with urgent diarrhoea when you’re plagued with dizziness if you move too fast. How climbing the stairs can make you out of breath. Getting an iron infusion is such a treat for me!

Weight loss is another major concern of mine, coupled with loss of appetite. It is so difficult to gain weight when as soon as you eat (if you can manage to) you get diarrhoea. Being so underweight carries its own symptoms and concerns. When I was diagnosed i was around 5ft 4/5ft 5 and weighed around 5st. My latest flare saw me drop to 6st 8lbs and I’m now 5ft 6.

Now, between anaemia, being underweight, running back and forth to the toilet and malnutrition, it’s not surprising that one of the major symptoms we have to deal with is fatigue. Add the fact that you can barely sleep because of toilet trips and stomach pain and you can imagine the exhaustion we feel. I can’t even shower when I’m flared up and have to only bathe because I can’t stand up long enough. Just getting to a Dr’s appointment can seem like climbing a mountain.

Dehydration and malnutrition seem to come part and parcel with the whole thing, diarrhoea will do that to you, many people also suffer with vomiting so even the water they do manage to drink comes straight back up again. Going into hospital this year I was immediately given fluids and what seemed like a constant flow of vitamins. One of my own added symptoms is that I have a naturally low blood pressure so it doesn’t take that much dehydration to see it drop to a worrying level.

In recent years I have also learnt that symptoms differ depending on the flare. In the past my symptoms were mostly the same, however a couple of years ago I had a flare that caused infuriating constipation! Which inevitably led to haemorrhoids, as if we didn’t have enough problems down there!

In yesterday’s post I also explained the added symptoms of anxiety and depression. Anxiety especially, I think just about all of us have to contend with.

Now, this is just a snapshot of my own symptoms and I have been lucky. There are far worse symptoms that others have to cope with and of course the severity of any of the symptoms differ from person to person. I just want people to be aware that IBD really is more than just a bowel disease.

What symptoms do you wish people were more aware of?

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