How Crohn’s disease affects the nervous system poorly understood
Because Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder it can affect any system of the body. If you are diagnosed with the disease it’s important to speak with your doctor about any symptoms that could be related to the inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD) you might experience.
One of the reasons it’s so important is because scientists still don’t fully understand how IBD that primarily includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affects other areas of the body.
Neurological symptoms associated with Crohn’s
Any part of the nervous system including the peripheral or central areas can be affected by Crohn’s disease. Early recognition and treatment leads to the best outcomes.
Studies show Crohn’s disease can lead to a variety of nervous system disorders. The good news is that it doesn't happen often.
Peripheral neuropathy that causes nerve damage, tingling and pain in the extremities is one example. A condition known a polyneuropathy can lead to nerve degeneration and loss of the protective coating that envelops the nerves, known as the myelin sheath.
Another neurological manifestations of Crohn’s disease that can happen even when the disease is inactive is cranial neuropathy. Symptoms might include headache or vision problems.
Researchers aren’t certain exactly why cranial neuropathy occurs with IBD. There is speculation that anti-TNF therapies could cause brain lesions, leading scientists to suggest a change of therapy for people undergoing treatment who develop symptoms. If you are receiving anti-TNF treatment and develop headache or other neurological symptoms it is important to discuss it with your doctor.
Researchers agree there is a need for more studies to understand how Crohn’s disease can affect the nervous system. Recent findings show neurological problems associated with IBD may be more common than previously known. Emerging patient studies also highlight the importance of more funding for Crohn’s research to understand more about how the disease develops and how it can affect the nervous system and other parts of the body.
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