Amy Dowden opens up about her battle with Crohn's disease
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Welsh dancer Amy Dowden has previously spoken about her Crohn’s disease, which she was diagnosed with at the age of 19. However it is only recently that the star opened up about the condition and the effects it has on her. In a BBC film she compared the illness to a “battle”. She said: “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.” The star’s illness is so bad that there is a back-up plan in place on the Strictly set.
Whilst keeping her condition hidden, the star received horrific abuse from online trolls due to her appearance. It was side effects to the high dose of intravenous steroids she was given to control her condition which in turn made her bloat.
She said: “Although it makes me feel better, it creates water retention, making my hips, thighs and bottom bloat and my face puffy.
“I want to look my best on the dance floor, but when you get photographed in an unflattering light and people make spiteful comments about your size, it can be very hurtful.”
At the age of 21, a dressmaker commented saying: “She has a fat bottom and a thick middle.” Understandably so, this made Amy extremely self-conscious.
Thankfully the star has the support of the Strictly team and her fellow co-stars, who she reveals have helped her out when she has had to be rushed to hospital.
“Dianne (Buswell) is always checking on me and when I had to go to hospital, Oti (Mabuse) got into a car the moment she finished filming and turned up at 11pm to see me,” Amy said.
“Another time when I was ill, Katya (Jones) took me to hospital and sat with me until 5am.”
Good friends Amy and Katya recalled an experience whilst on an Instagram live for HELLO, where Katya had to once phone an ambulance for Amy due to her poor health.
Talking about the experience Katya said: “It was definitely an experience and I’m so glad that I was there Amy, because I know exactly what I have to do. I feel like I can be there for you at any time, I’m not afraid of it. And I had to be the strong one! I was like, ‘Right, what do you do? Keep calm.’ It’s different because I just knew I had to be that person but now I’m so glad I can be there for you at any time.”
Amy also has the support of finance Ben Jones, who is instrumental in helping Amy ward off attacks. Talking to HELLO about Amy’s symptoms Ben revealed that the star goes through a “whole personality change.”
“Amy gets sleepy, her eyes start to swell and she goes pale. When that happens, she has to stop and rest immediately,” Ben explained. “If she doesn’t, things get worse.”
The NHS state that the main symptoms of Crohn’s disease include the following:
- Diarrhoea – which may come on suddenly
- Stomach aches and cramps – most often in the lower-right part of your tummy
- Blood in your poo
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Weight loss.
However, others living with the condition may also suffer with different symptoms such as:
- A high temperature
- Feeling and being sick
- Joint pains
- Sore, red eyes
- Patches of painful, red and swollen skin – usually on the legs
- Mouth ulcers.
Symptoms become worse when individuals go through what are known as “flares”. This is followed by a period of “remission” where symptoms are less noticeable.
Diagnosis is tricky and some individuals may self-diagnose themselves as having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) due to the problems with their digestive system.
But following NHS guidelines, if you notice that you have persistent and frequent diarrhoea, stomach cramps / aches or are losing weight for no reason it is important to see your GP.
Can you treat Crohn’s?
Although there is no permanent cure for the condition, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation suggest a combination of treatment options is best to help individuals control the disease.
Medication is the main and most common treatment and is designed to suppress your immune system’s abnormal inflammatory response which causes symptoms. Suppressing inflammation not only offers relief from common symptoms like fever, diarrhoea, and pain, it also allows your intestinal tissues to heal.
Paying special attention to your diet can also help reduce symptoms, replace lost nutrients and promote healing. For people diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, it is essential to maintain good nutrition because Crohn’s often reduces your appetite while increasing your body’s energy needs.
People who experience flare ups find that soft, bland food causes less discomfort in comparison to spicy or high-fibre foods. While your diet can remain flexible and should include a variety of foods from all food groups, your doctor will likely recommend restricting your intake of dairy.
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