If you have Crohn's Disease something that you may not be aware of is what a fistula is. Even though I have had Crohn's for many years I am very lucky to have never have had a fistula. A fistula is an abnormal tunnel connecting two body cavities that are not normally connected, such as the rectum and the vagina. A fistula can also be a body cavity to the skin such as the rectum to the outside of the body.
One way that a fistula may develop is through an abscess, which is a pocket of pus in the body. If the abscess is always filled with bodily fluids, like urine or stools this can prevent healing from taking place. Fistulas are more common in Crohn's Disease than in Ulcerative Colitis, about 25% of people with Crohn's will develop a fistula.
Some of the symptoms that you can get if have a fistula are things like pain, fever, tenderness, itching, and generally not feeling very well. It may also drain pus or a foul smelling discharge, these symptoms vary depending on the severity and the location of the fistula.
A common place to get a fistula when you have crohn's is in the perianal region. They can be internal, around or between the intestine and other organs such as the bladder and abdominal wall. A fistula in the colon or rectum may cause the contents of the intestine to seep into the bladder, vagina or even drain through the skin. Fistulas can be common causes of sepsis in Crohn's disease, in some cases sepsis can be life threatening.
Fistulas are usually treatable and the treatment varies depending on the location. Around half of fistulas can heal themselves, but if you think that you have a fistula then it would be best for you to see your doctor and follow the recommendations that they give you to remedy the problem.