What Are
Symptoms of
Crohn’s Disease?

Person holding stomach in pain

Honestly, Crohn’s symptoms vary from person to person.

There are some symptoms that are more common than others, though. When recognizing the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s, keep in mind that the disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Person holding stomach in pain

Crohn’s Disease Symptoms Include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Constipation
  • Urgent need to move bowels
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue (or low energy)
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle

Crohn’s disease symptoms range from mild to severe, can change over time, and vary from person to person—depending on what part of the GI tract is inflamed. And Crohn’s can be progressive—meaning that over time, your symptoms can get worse. That’s why it’s important to always have open conversations about your symptoms with your doctor. You and your doctor will use that information to help determine the best treatment plan for you.

Crohn’s Inflammation Can Affect More Than the GI Tract

With Crohn’s disease, a person’s immune system overreacts—causing inflammation that leads to symptoms. Outside of the intestine (extraintestinal) it can also affect:

EYES

SKIN

JOINTS

What Are Some Signs to Assess Crohn's Disease Activity?

Mild to Moderate
Man with mild to moderate Crohn's symptoms
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain (but can walk and eat normally)
  • No signs of:
    • Dehydration
    • High fever
    • Abdominal tenderness
    • Intestinal obstruction
    • Weight loss > 10%
Moderate to Severe
Very Severe

Crohn’s disease is unpredictable. Symptoms can change over time in severity—or even altogether. You may go through periods of remission (when you have few or no symptoms) alternating with times when the disease is active and causing symptoms (flares). Crohn’s symptoms can also come on suddenly, without warning. For times like those, it’s good to be prepared with resources like the Restroom Request Card.

Remember to partner with your doctor—helping you both create a treatment plan that’s right for you. It’s important to follow your treatment as prescribed and to contact your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have.

3 Key Tips From Dr. Millie Long

Transcript

Gastroenterologist Dr. Millie Long talks about tips for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—like Crohn’s or UC.

QUESTION FOR YOU

How long have you been diagnosed?

"I'm not diagnosed"

It’s still important to be open about symptoms you might be experiencing.

Partner with your doctor>

 

"Under a year"

Always stay positive and be proactive. Make sure you know the facts about your condition.

GET THE FACT SHEET>

"1 to 3 years"

Make the most out of every appointment with your specialist.

Get The Doctor Discussion Guide>

"3 to 5 years"

Do you know how inflammation affects you inside the body—and impacts your symptoms?

See Inside Inflammation>

"Over 5 years"

Keep treatment conversations open with your specialist and have more productive visits.

Get The Doctor Discussion Guide>

QUESTION FOR YOU

How often do you experience symptoms?

“Daily”

Schedule an appointment with your specialist and make the visit even more productive.

GET THE Doctor Discussion Guide>

“Weekly”

Have an open conversation with your specialist. Make the most of your next visit.

Get the Doctor Discussion Guide>

“Monthly”

Make sure that you’re telling your doctor everything they need to know to help you.

GET THE Doctor Discussion Guide>

“Rarely”

Did you know that inflammation can affect you—even if you don’t have symptoms?

SEE INSIDE INFLAMMATION>

Know the basics of Crohn’s or UC

See an overview of facts on Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—all on one downloadable page.

Understand your inflammation

Explore and learn how inflammation affects you with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—from inside the body.

Know Your Type of Crohn’s Disease and Its Symptoms

If you have Crohn’s, you should know which part of your GI tract is affected. The type of Crohn’s you have impacts the symptoms and complications you may experience. And remember to always tell your doctor about the impact of your disease on your life.

Ileocolitis

It’s the most common form of Crohn’s disease—affecting the end of the small intestine (terminal ileum) and the large intestine (colon)

Symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea and cramping
  • Pain in the middle or lower right part of the abdomen
  • Significant weight loss
Ileocolitis Diagram
Ileitis
Jejunoileitis
Gastroduodenal Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s (Granulomatous) Colitis

What Are Complications of Crohn’s Disease?

Some cases of Crohn’s can lead to serious complications. In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery. Remember that having a good partnership between you and your doctor is very important in managing your disease.

  • Abscess—Infected fluid collection in a tissue cavity
  • Anemia—Over time, this can be caused by blood loss in the stool or lack of iron or vitamin B12
  • Bone loss—People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—like Crohn’s—often have decreased vitamin D, which can lead to bone loss (osteopenia or osteoarthritis), and steroids can make bone loss worse
  • Bowel obstruction—Crohn’s affects the thickness of the intestinal wall, and over time parts of the bowel can scar and narrow—which may block the flow of digestion
  • Fissures—Tears in the anus lining which can cause pain and bleeding (especially during bowel movements)
  • Fistula—Abnormal tunnels that form between 2 structures of the body which are caused by inflammation
  • Increased risk of colon cancer—Long-term inflammation of the colon can lead to colon dysplasia (abnormal or precancerous cells)—and colon cancer
  • Malabsorption and malnutrition—This includes deficiency of vitamins and minerals—specifically, inflammation of the small intestine can decrease absorption of iron and vitamin B12
  • Perforated bowel—Chronic inflammation can weaken the intestinal wall to the extent that a hole develops
  • Stricture—Narrowing of the intestine, resulting from chronic inflammation
  • Ulcers—Chronic inflammation can lead to open sores (ulcers) anywhere in your digestive tract—from the mouth to anus

Want to prepare for your next Crohn’s doctor visit? Use the Doctor Discussion Guide

 

Person looking at map on mobile phone

Looking for a gastroenterologist?

Find a gastroenterologist—a doctor who specializes in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC)—near you.

Stopwatch

Is it time make a personalized action plan?

See how much time your disease is impacting you. Answer 5 quick questions and get 3 customized, timely steps to help you and your doctor take action with your disease.

Understand your inflammation

Explore and learn how inflammation affects you with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—from inside the body.

Woman going over her doctor discussion guide with her doctor

Make the most of your appointments

Our doctor discussion guide can help you talk effectively with your doctor during your visits.

Person looking at map on mobile phone

Looking for a gastroenterologist?

Find a gastroenterologist—a doctor who specializes in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC)—near you.

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