Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready on first signs of ‘frightening’ bowel disease – ‘all this blood’

Dr Zoe discusses the signs and symptoms on Crohn's disease

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Pearl Jam shot to fame back in the 1990s with their alternative rock. The band’s flashy riffs and embrace of the 90s grunge scene helped the band shoot to fame with hit songs like Ten and Even Flow. But what many fans don’t know about the band is that its lead guitarist, McCready, is suffering from a chronic condition that sometimes affects him on stage.

Crohn’s disease and colitis are also known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The main symptom of Crohn’s is the inflammation of the walls of the intestine, while ulcerative colitis is characterised by inflammation of the colon and rectum.

The main symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and rectal bleeding.

McCready, 56, was diagnosed with his bowel condition when he was 21.

The star first came across his condition in the late 80s while living in Los Angeles, trying his best to get a record deal with the band he was in at the time, Shadow.

“All the sudden I just started to see all this blood and mucus and was in a ton of pain,” McCready told the Seattle Seahawks press team.

“I had no idea what was going on.”He shared hope initially he put it down to having eaten something dodgy but it didn’t go away.

That’s when he visited his doctor who told him it was Crohn’s disease.

Although a whopping 500,000 Brits and one million Americans are said to have IBD, the condition is not often spoken about in public – perhaps unsurprisingly. Yet, McCready has been candid about living with the disease in the past.

During an interview with, McCready shared details about living with IBD. He said before cracking a laugh: “Sometimes, I didn’t quite make it off the stage.

“But, I never let the disease stop me from doing what I love and that’s the message I want to send to kids who are dealing with it also.”

The guitarist from Seattle has always emphasised that children suffer more from the condition and encourages them to not give up on the disease.

“I’m old, I’m an adult, whatever — I can deal with it,” he said to Seattle Times in a throwback interview from 2003.

“But there’s a lot of kids suffering from it. It can be very frightening or very sad.”

According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, the condition can be diagnosed at any age but is more popular among adolescents and young adults.

“They have to go to school, they have to deal with the embarrassment, it’s just a real drag,” McCready said about children suffering from IBD.

“I haven’t had as much suffering as some of the people that I’ve met.”

  • According to Mayo Clinic the other symptoms of Crohn’s disease include the following:
  • Mouth sores
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss
  • Pain or drainage near or around the anus due to inflammation from a tunnel into the skin (fistula).

Signs of the disease can develop gradually but may also come on suddenly.The causes of Crohn’s disease are not entirely known although scientists suspect it could be hereditary or come on after a bacterial or viral infection triggers an abnormal immune response that attacks the digestive tract.

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