What is Crohn's disease? Everything you need to know about Crohn's, its symptoms and what Strictly dancer Amy Dowden said about having it

Professional Strictly Come Dancing dancer Amy Dowden discussed what it was like to live with Crohn’s disease on ITV’s Lorraine on Thursday morning

Strictly Come Dancing dancer Amy Dowden discussed the reality of living with Crohn's disease, but what is it and what are Crohn's symptoms? (Image credit: PA/BBC/Getty Images)
Strictly Come Dancing dancer Amy Dowden discussed the reality of living with Crohn's disease, but what is it and what are Crohn's symptoms? (Image credit: PA/BBC/Getty Images)

Dowden, a Strictly professional dancer who has been partnered up with celebrities like CBBC presenter Karim Zeroual and JJ Chalmers, spoke to Lorraine guest host Christine Lampard this morning about her struggle with the condition known as Crohn’s disease.

The hidden illness affecting the digestive system is thought to occur in one in every 650 people across the UK, with Crohn’s diagnosed in people of all ages but presenting its symptoms commonly in childhood and early adulthood according to the NHS.

But what does it mean to have Crohn’s disease?

Here’s what you need to know about the illness, its symptoms and what dancer Amy Dowden said about her experience with Crohn’s.

What is Crohn’s disease?

A form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease is a condition which sees the digestive system become chronically inflamed and can affect any part of your gastrointestinal tract.

It can cause considerable discomfort and abdominal pain during flare ups, but is a lifelong illness with no specific cure.

Crohn’s disease can, however, be treated in a number of ways - with medication such as steroids to reduce inflammation in the digestive system or preventative injections to stop inflammation from reoccurring.

Some Crohn’s patients will also undergo operations to have parts of the digestive system removed in an effort to ease discomfort and prevent inflammation.

What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?

While the exact cause of Crohn’s disease remains unknown, scientists believe that it is could be genetic, caused by smoking, an abnormal balance of gut bacteria levels or resulting from problems with the immune system.

The NHS say that the main symptoms of Crohn’s and those to watch out for are:

- diarrhoea

- stomach aches and cramps

- blood in your stool

- tiredness (fatigue)

- weight loss

They add that those experiencing any of the above symptoms and diarrhoea for more than seven days should visit their GP as soon as possible.

What did Strictly Come Dancing’s Amy Dowden say about having Crohn’s?

Appearing on ITV’s Lorraine on Thursday morning (26 August), Amy Dowden told Lampard that while she has ‘accepted’ the illness, she still fears that it may one day stop her from dancing.

Dowden said she “lives in fear” that the impact of the disease could come to have an impact on her successful dancing career and three season stint on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

"Strictly has been more than a dance show to me, it got me through the darkest times of my illness," she told Lampard.

"For me it was a big inspiration to keep me dancing.

"Dancing has pulled me through my Crohn's but it's a battle.

"I live in fear that what I love the most could be taken away, and I've been more ill this year than I have been in a long time."

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The star appeared in a BBC documentary, Amy Dowden: Crohn’s and Me, last year which will be broadcast again on BBC One on Friday 27 August at 7pm.

Dowden described the documentary as part of efforts to highlight the reality of having Crohn’s rather than glamourise what it’s like to live with the illness.

"I wanted to highlight the truth of Crohn's," she said.

"I didn't want to make in glamorous in any way."

What other famous celebrities have Crohn’s disease?

Alongside Welsh dance star Amy Dowden, a number of celebrities have publicly discussed living with Crohn’s disease or the second form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis.

While Crohn’s disease is inflammation of the digestive system and gastrointestinal tract, Ulcerative Colitis is inflammation of the colon and rectum’s inner lining reflected in ulcers developing on the lining.

Sam Faiers of The Only Way is Essex fame has talked openly about what it’s like to have Crohn’s disease after the reality TV star received her diagnosis in 2014.

International music sensation Anastacia has also discussed her experience with Crohn’s, while UK sports stars like Sir Steve Redgrave, England rugby player Lewis Moody and Olympic swimmer Siobhan-Marie O’Connor suffer with Ulcerative Colitis.

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