Disney star Benjamin King opens up about his battle with Crohn's disease

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As Pete Rooney on the Disney Channel's "Liv and Maddie," actor Benjamin King keeps in step with the grueling schedule of shooting a TV show.

But off camera, the performer battles a chronic condition few people are willing to discuss openly: Crohn's disease.

"At 15 years old when you're diagnosed with an illness that's so personal and private in nature, it can take away a lot of your self-esteem, which is why I came forward," King said.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Dr. Leon Treyzon said Crohn's disease causes inflammation along the gastrointestinal tract lining and symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and bleeding through the digestive tract.

Doctors suspect environmental, genetic and nutritional factors lead to the condition.

Since inflammatory bowel disease often strikes people who are young and healthy, it can be difficult to get a diagnosis. But doctors say often patients are in denial, which keeps them from seeking treatment.

"There's complications to untreated inflammation, the most pertinent one would be the development of cancer as a result of chronic inflammation," Treyzon explained.

With millions watching "Liv and Maddie," the NIH National Library of Medicine thought King could reach the 800,000 children living with inflammatory bowel disease.

"Stay with your doctor regularly, get checkups and if something doesn't seem right follow through on it, don't just sort of brush it off," King said.

With medication, surgery and good nutrition, King is in remission and wants people to know Crohn's disease can be conquered.

"You can live a full and productive life, check in with your doctor, take your medication, but have fun and don't let this disease define you," King said.

Disney is the parent company of ABC7.
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