Crohns Disease Symptoms

Crohn disease is an inflammatory condition that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. It commonly affects the ileum though it can extend all the way up to the mouth and all the way down the rectum. In this article, we shall take a look at the common symptoms that patients with Crohn disease suffer from.

Symptoms of Crohn disease

There are a handful of symptoms that are common and a few that are rare. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, non-bloody diarrhoea and generalised fatigue. Let’s take a closer look at these symptoms.

Abdominal pain

Patients usually experience abdominal pain in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. This is because the ileocaecal area is the most commonly affected area. The pain is typically described as colicky and can occur in spasms. Patients may find that defecation can relieve the symptoms to some extent. On examination, the abdomen may be diffusely tender.

Associated with the abdominal pain is nausea and vomiting. The symptoms of course can vary depending on which part of the gastrointestinal tract is involved. Abdominal pain can also be present around the umbilicus alone. Sometimes, patients may develop swelling of the lining of the intestine (oedema) which is associated with abdominal pain. The swelling can get severe enough to cause blockage of the intestine and can lead to constipation, making the patient feel extremely unwell.

Abdominal pain can also occur due to complications of Crohn disease such as fistula formation and abscess formation.


Typically in Crohn disease patients complain of non-bloody diarrhoea. However, if the rectum is involved, there may be traces of blood in the stool. As has been previously mentioned, patients may find relief from abdominal pain following an episode of diarrhoea. Diarrhoea can occur a few times every day and can really washout the patient.

Generalised symptoms

Patients usually suffer from a low-grade fever with nausea and vomiting. All these symptoms together can make the patient feel extremely tired and lose weight as well. Patients may also lose their appetite which can only contribute to weight loss.

Symptoms from complications

We have already mentioned how bowel obstruction can occur due to intestinal oedema. Crohn disease is notorious at causing small perforations in the bowel which can lead to an abnormal connection between the bowel and adjacent structures. These are called fistulae. These fistulae can connect the bowel to the bladder, vagina and even the skin. Patients can develop infections within the abdomen as a result of faeces passing into these structures. As a result they can develop a high fever and severe abdominal pain with associated guarding and rigidity, which is an indication of peritonitis.

Crohn disease can also place the patient at a higher risk of developing colon cancer. Patients can lose weight and also have blood in their stools as a result of this.

Extra intestinal symptoms

This refers to symptoms that are not related to the bowel problems but occur elsewhere in the body. Patients with Crohn disease can have joint pains and arthritis. In addition to this they can also develop a skin condition called erythema nodosum. These are red painful nodules that are elevated from the surface of the skin and are seen on the front of the leg (over the tibia). Oral ulcers and inflammation of the structures of the eye can also occur. Patients are also more prone to developing blood clots and liver disease.


Crohn disease is riddled with a variety of symptoms and signs. Identifying and treating these appropriately and early can help prevent complications and help manage the condition effectively.

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