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Investigate Crohn's Disease symptoms early

At 37 years of age, Sean Ozee finally saw a doctor after following an "out of pain, out of mind" path for 30 years. Over those years, his intermittent abdominal cramps occurred more frequently and were increasingly painful.

The final straw occurred when he was on a work trip to California and a severe flair-up in his gastrointestinal tract made him double over in pain every time he ate, making him feel like he was trying to digest glass.

"I didn't know what was normal and what was abnormal since I had been dealing with it since I was 7 or 8," said Ozee, who was diagnosed last year with Crohn's Disease. Based on his symptoms he could have either had Crohn's Disease or ulcerative colitis, both forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

IBD causes inflammation of the digestive tract. The two diseases have similar symptoms, usually causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue and weight loss. The diseases can progress, like Ozee's did, and "can be debilitating and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications," according to the Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org.

"It is not normal to have pain," said Dr. Troy Harden, family physician at the Lawton Community Health Center. "Anybody who has frequent abdominal pain, whether they have diarrhea or not, should have a discussion with (their) primary care physician."

If the patient's health history, symptoms and signs of inflammatory bowel disease warrant it, the doctor will send the patient for tests that will confirm an initial diagnosis.

The Lawton Constitution

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