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‘Abbott Elementary’ star opens up about struggle with Crohn’s disease: What to know about the disease

(NEW YORK) — Actor Tyler James Williams is fresh off his first Golden Globe win for his role as Gregory Eddie on Abbott Elementary. While the actor celebrates a high point in his career, he said he is also celebrating his low points, revealing his journey living with Crohn’s disease.

“Imagining the worst thing that could possibly happen is one of my best qualities,” Williams recently told Men’s Health.

The actor opened up to the magazine about living with Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract. He said he first discovered he had the disease in his early 20s while he was trying to put on muscle weight to land a TV role.

“I was really pushing my body to the limit. By the time December hit, it just crashed. Everything shut down,” Williams told Men’s Health.

Williams reportedly underwent emergency surgery to remove 6 inches of his lower intestine, but his intestines were unable to heal back together and sent him into septic shock, a life-threatening condition caused by an infection.

“The last thought I had was, ‘This could be it. If this is it, I’m not happy. I worked a lot. I did a lot of things. I didn’t enjoy any of this. This can’t be it,"” said Williams, who began his career as a child sitcom star in Everybody Hates Chris.

Williams said his brother Tyrel is also living with the disease. The actor said he turned to focus on a healthy lifestyle that included giving up alcohol, coffee and processed meat — all of which trigger Crohn’s disease flare-ups.

“I had to learn how to stop making a dramatic change happen really quickly and learn how to have a better relationship with my body,” Williams said. “The important thing for me, and those like me, to remember is that longevity is a big part of the game. If you can’t [stay strong] and be healthy, there really is no point.”

What is Crohn’s disease?

More than half a million Americans are living with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition that can lead to persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and malnutrition. If left untreated, the disease can potentially lead to life-threatening complications, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

There is currently no cure for the disease, but it can be treated into remission with medicines, bowel rest and surgery to decrease inflammation and prevent flare-ups of symptoms, according to the NIDDK.

Crohn’s disease can develop at any age, but is more likely to develop in people between the ages of 20 and 29, who may have a family member with the disease and those with other risk factors like smoking, the NIDDK said.

To diagnose the disease, doctors typically use a combination of tests, including a physical exam and lab tests.

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