Crohn's disease is an immune system disorder that mainly affects the gut, but also has the potential to cause inflammation elsewhere in the body. This can lead to a wide variety of additional health problems. Here are some of the conditions that can be seen with Crohn’s.
Asthma and Other Respiratory Diseases
Some people with IBD also have asthma or another respiratory issues like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Asthma may be caused by an autoimmune glitch. Inflammation in the airways also plays a role.
Most people with Crohn’s don’t develop colon cancer. But you might need to be checked for it more often.
Chronic inflammation in the intestines raises the risk of colon cancer for people with IBD. For that reason, people with Crohn's should get more frequent screening colonoscopies -- usually every 1 or 2 years -- to ensure that any precancerous polyps or potentially cancerous tumors are caught as early as possible.
Depression and Anxiety
Being depressed or anxious doesn't cause Crohn's disease, but mental and physical health are interwoven. In rough times, symptoms and flares are more likely. The reverse is also true: Dealing with the discomfort of Crohn's, the potential embarrassment and logistical issues that go along with the need for frequent bathroom breaks, and the stress of having a chronic condition may lead to depression or anxiety in some people with IBD.
If this happens, get help. Your doctor is a good starting point, or reach out to a therapist or counselor. A Crohn’s support group may also be a good resource.
People who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, are more likely than others to develop heart disease. This may be due to higher levels of inflammation that impact the heart and blood vessels. One large study concluded that simply having IBD should be considered a heart attack risk factor, but that’s not an official risk factor. Keep up with your regular checkups so that you know if you need to see a cardiologist or manage any heart-related risk factors.
Osteoporosis, or thinning bones, may be a problem for people with severe IBD who have trouble absorbing calcium and vitamin D. Those who take steroid medication (such as prednisone) to control their condition are certainly at risk, as osteoporosis is a well-known side effect of these drugs.
Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Multiple Sclerosis
Crohn's is an autoimmune condition, which means it's caused by a defect in the body's immune system that causes it to attack healthy tissue. If you have one autoimmune ailment, you're more likely to develop others.