Amy Dowden: Strictly star rushed to hospital after ‘unexpected flare-up’ of condition

Amy Dowden opens up about her battle with Crohn's disease

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Sharing to Instagram on November, 30, Sara and Tom, who have both been eliminated from the BBC dancing competition, detailed how they received an insight into what life with Crohn’s was like, after Amy experienced an “unexpected” flare-up. This led to the professional dancer missing out on the Strictly live show on Saturday night whilst she recovered. The whole of Tom Fletcher’s family then stepped in to help, as Amy stayed with the family, including Tom’s wife Giovanni Fletcher, after she came out of hospital.

Within the Instagram post, Tom explained how he had “heroically” carried Amy out into the ambulance whilst wearing a fetching pair of crocs, and Sara who had donated her an extra pair of trousers, whilst reassuring worried fans that the Fletchers were “taking care of her”.

The professional dancer was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 19, but had been experiencing symptoms and bouts of illness since the age of 11.

Now at the age of 31, the star has spoken out about her diagnosis journey, and the symptoms she is always on the lookout for, incase of a flare-up.

Talking to UK based charity Crohn’s and Colitis Amy said: “It was such a relief to finally receive a diagnosis.

“I just have to look out for the signs, which for me start with swollen eyes. Then I call my doctor. I have learnt to listen to my body, and to notice when things start getting out of tune.

“I know when I need to rest, and when I have to eat simply and drink lots of water. I have always been driven to win, so Crohn’s was never going to hold me back.”

According to the NHS, a “flare-up” is when individuals with Crohn’s experience sudden and constant unpleasant symptoms.

The main symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach aches and cramps
  • Blood in your poo
  • Tiredness (fatigue)
  • Weight loss.

Amy also experiences swelling and redness, usually around the eyes, as a side effect from the inflammation of the digestive system.

Speaking about his former dance partner Tom described Amy as “one of the strongest people [he’d] ever met”.

He went on to say: “Being with her during a Crohn’s flare-up this weekend was a pretty scary experience to say the least! So glad @saradaviescc and I were with her to do what we could until the ambulance arrived.”

When individuals experience a flare-up of symptoms, it is crucial that they receive treatment to help reduce and control symptoms.

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A post shared by Amy-Dowden (@amy_dowden)

The main treatments used by the NHS include medication to reduce inflammation, medication to stop inflammation from returning, and surgery to remove part of the digestive system.

For Amy, she finds success in managing her condition through a series of daily medication as well as a strict diet.

However in a previous interview, she described how sometimes medication, especially steroids can cause undesirable side effects such as bloating.

She said: “Although it makes me feel better, it creates water retention, making my hips, thighs and bottom bloat and my face puffy.

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A post shared by Amy-Dowden (@amy_dowden)

“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.”

In addition to medication, Crohn’s and Colitis UK suggests that good nutrition is essential as it reduces your appetite while increasing your body’s energy needs. Additionally, common Crohn’s symptoms like diarrhoea can reduce your body’s ability to absorb protein, fat, carbohydrates, as well as water, vitamins, and minerals.

The charity continues to state that those who experience frequent flare-ups often find that soft, bland foods cause less discomfort in comparison to spicy and high-fibre foods.

Amy credits Strictly Come Dancing for helping her cope with her condition, despite becoming “more ill” in recent years. She added: “Strictly has been more than a dance show to me, it got me through the darkest times of my illness. 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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