There’s no denying that there’s much more awareness around Inflammatory Bowel Disease than there used to be. With celebrities opening up about their life with the disease and more being written about it than ever before, it’s great to see this condition being acknowledged.
Yet despite this, most of the articles tend to focus on the obvious: a list of symptoms that don’t go far beyond our toilet trips. Don’t get me wrong, having IBD often means we’re used to all kinds of strange bowel habits, but it goes way beyond that – IBD can affect every single part of your body. For those who aren’t in the know, here are 10 symptoms of IBD that most people don’t even realise exist.
1. Eye inflammation Yep, having IBD can impact our eyesight. Episcleritis is the most common type of eye problem to impact those of us with IBD, and it causes redness and soreness in the white outer coating of the eye.
2. Weird periods Irregular cycles and even missed cycles can be common in women with IBD. It’s due to many different factors, including disease activity and nutritional deficiencies.3. Erythema nodosum This is a skin condition that causes painful lumps to appear (usually on arms and legs). Up to 15% people with Crohn’s disease can experience this skin condition.
4. Vitamin D deficiency With winter approaching, we’re all being warned to top up our vitamin D. However, it’s estimated that at least 30% of patients with IBD are deficient in this vitamin. It can also be linked to disease activity (more on this here).
5. Night sweats These are commonly reported during flare-ups and can also be side effects of many medications we IBD sufferers take.
6. Constipation Yes, we know everything you read about IBD suggests we go to the loo a lot, but some sufferers can suffer from the other extreme. Yet, this is rarely talked about.
7. Anxiety Those of us with IBD are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety. Unfortunately, there’s very little support for this post-diagnosis.
8. Fatigue No, we’re not just a bit tired. Fatigue is a level of tiredness that isn’t resolved by a quick power nap. Even in remission, many patients are in a state of exhaustion.
9. Bone loss and fractures It’s thought that having IBD is a risk factor for making bone loss and fractures more likely.
10. Arthritis As well as fractures, joint issues are a common Extra-Intestinal Manifestation of Inflammatory Bowel Disease