What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?

What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?

What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?

Some of those who suffer from Crohn's disease only have the last section of their small intestine, known as the ileum, affected. In other people, the disease is typically confined to their colon, this is part of the large intestine. The areas that are most commonly affected by the disease are the colon and the last section of the small intestine (ileum).

The symptoms of Crohn's disease tend to vary and can range between mild and severe. The symptoms seem to develop gradually, however, in some cases they can suddenly appear with little or no warning. The patient may also go into periods of remission where they will experience very few (if any) symptoms followed by periods where they will suffer from a relapse as the symptoms tend to re-emerge.

When Crohn’s disease is in a period of relapse and is active, then the signs and symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhoea – This is a common issue for a number of people suffering from Crohn’s disease. Intestinal cramping caused by the condition can often contribute to diarrhoea.
  • Fatigue and fever – Low-grade fever is often caused by the infection and inflammation associated with Crohn’s, this often results in the patients feeling tired and as though their energy is depleted.
  • Abdominal cramping and pain – Ulceration (the formation of ulcers) and inflammation can often affect the natural movement of the digestive contents through the digestive tract. This often results in cramping and pain. The patient’s pain may vary from being slightly uncomfortable to more severe, with more severe periods of pain often being accompanied by vomiting and nausea.
  • Blood in stool – Dark blood in stools or bright red stools is sometimes seen in those suffering from Crohn’s disease. There may also be faecal occult blood present, this is blood that is present in the stool but is not visible.  
  • Mouth sores – Those with Crohn’s disease tend to experience pain from ulcers in the mouth that can be similar to those of canker sores (small and shallow sores in the mouth that can make eating and talking painful).
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss – Cramping and abdominal pain, as well as inflammation, can result in the sufferer’s appetite being affected as their ability to digest food can also be impacted.
  • Perianal disease – Drainage and pain near the anus is also experienced as a result of abscesses, inflammation and infection developing between the anus and the surrounding skin, this is known as an anal fistula.

Crohn's symptoms

Other symptoms and signs

People who have a more severe case of Crohn’s disease may also suffer from:

  • Inflammation of the bile ducts and liver
  • Inflammation of the eyes, skin and joints
  • Delayed sexual development or growth (in children)

When to see a doctor

If someone suffers from persistent changes in their bowel movements or if they experience any of the below symptoms and signs associated with Crohn's disease, then they should make an appointment to see their doctor.

These symptoms include:

  • Blood in stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bouts of diarrhoea that are ongoing and nonresponsive to over-the-counter treatments
  • Weight loss that is unexplained
  • A fever for more than two days that is unexplained
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