The Symptoms to Watch Out For
Crohn's disease is generally
more difficult to diagnose than the other major inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis (UC).
This is because Crohn's isn't confined to any one area of the gastrointestinal
(GI) tract. UC is located in the colon, while Crohn's may appear anywhere from
the mouth to the anus.
There are several different
types of Crohn's disease, each with its own set of symptoms. You can better assist
your doctor in making a proper diagnosis if you know what symptoms to watch out
General Symptoms of Crohn's Disease
A few symptoms are common
among all types of Crohn's disease. These symptoms include:
pain with cramps
- lack of
Pain usually begins within an
hour of eating and is most often concentrated around the navel, the lower right
abdomen, or both. Activities like jogging will often make the pain worse.
Swelling is a symptom of
Crohn’s that differentiates it from UC. Swelling is usually located in the
lower right part of the abdomen. The area of swelling is typically about the
size and firmness of a small grapefruit. Tenderness around the swelling, which
is easily felt, ranges from mild to extreme. Mild tenderness points to an
inflamed intestine and enlarged lymph nodes. Extreme tenderness may be due to
an abscess, in which case the skin may appear red and stretched. Moderate
tenderness could signal a combination of the above.
About one-third of people with
Crohn’s will also be diagnosed with perianal disease. Perianal disease can
cause fistulas, fissures, abscesses, or skin tags. Fistulas create abnormal
connections between different parts of your intestine, your intestine and your
skin, or your intestine and other organs. Some people may have swollen skin
tags around the anus as well.
Symptoms of Crohn's Disease of the Colon
Symptoms of Crohn's disease
of the colon, Crohn's colitis, manifest differently depending on where the
disease is located in the colon.
If the disease is on the
right side of the colon, a person will generally have cramps and diarrhea. If it’s located on the left side or involves most of the
colon, a person may experience blood in the stool in addition to the other
If the disease is located in
the rectum, symptoms will be similar to UC. Symptoms may also include bloody
diarrhea or the feeling of having a bowel movement in which little or nothing
Symptoms of Crohn's Disease of the Small Intestine
Those with Crohn's disease of
the small intestine, small bowel Crohn's, will likely experience cramps,
diarrhea, and weight loss.
Occasionally, a person with
small bowel Crohn's will have constipation rather than diarrhea. Pain can be so extreme with this
type of Crohn's that some people will avoid eating. This can cause weight loss.
Symptoms of Crohn's Disease of the Ileum and Colon
The ileum is a portion of the
small intestine. Someone with both Crohn's of the ileum and of the colon may
experience symptoms associated with either disease or symptoms of both. This is
because Crohn's of the ileum may flare up when the colonic disease is in
remission, or vice versa.
Symptoms of Crohn's Disease of the Stomach or Duodenum
The duodenum is the part of
the small intestine closest to the stomach. Many people who have Crohn's of the
stomach or duodenum will experience no symptoms at all.
If symptoms do occur, they’re
likely to happen in the upper abdomen either during or immediately following a
meal. A smaller percentage will experience nausea, vomiting, or both.
Weight loss is another common
symptom. This is because people with Crohn’s of the stomach often avoid eating
or consume less food to prevent pain and other symptoms.
In some cases, because of
scarring, this type of Crohn's will cause a narrowing of the outlet of the
stomach into the duodenum. If this happens, you will usually experience a
decrease in appetite, a prolonged bloated feeling located in the upper abdomen,
Symptoms of Crohn's Diseases of the Appendix, Esophagus, and Mouth
Crohn’s of the appendix,
esophagus, and mouth are rare types of the disease.
Crohn's disease of the
appendix may mimic appendicitis and can be present without any other unique
Crohn's of the esophagus may
cause pain behind the breastbone while swallowing. If the esophagus has
become narrowed due to scarring, a person may have trouble swallowing or food
may become stuck on the way down. Contact your doctor immediately if you have
Signs and symptoms of Crohn's
of the mouth normally consist of large, painful sores in the mouth. If you have
this symptom, contact your doctor.
Crohn’s research and studies
Clinical research into Crohn’s is ongoing. There have been several exciting developments over the past several years. These studies are small but offer potential new directions for the study of Crohn’s and its complications. One study found that Crohn’s disease may be influenced by childhood health events. These include events like having your tonsils removed and having chickenpox.
New treatment options are also being explored. A 2016 study found hyperbaric oxygen therapy to be a satisfactory treatment for some types of skin complications related to Crohn’s. In 2014, the FDA approved a new prescription drug to help with symptoms. This drug is approved for patients who have not responded to other commonly used therapies. The medication, Entyvio, blocks the interaction between inflammatory cells and blood vessels, preventing the inflammatory cells from entering into the gastrointestinal track. It is these inflammatory cells that are believed to cause Crohn’s symptoms.
According to a review of several studies on the role of physical exercise in inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s, physical exercise is useful in improving immune function as well as the overall health of patients.