Warning Signs That You’re Struggling With Crohn’s Disease

More than half a million Americans are currently living with Crohn’s Disease. This inflammatory bowel disease causes the digestive tract to become inflamed. The bad news… Darren Ryding - February 7, 2024

More than half a million Americans are currently living with Crohn’s Disease. This inflammatory bowel disease causes the digestive tract to become inflamed. The bad news is that there’s currently no cure but it is treatable. However, it’s often very painful before diagnosis so it’s important to know the symptoms.

Anybody can suffer from Crohn’s Disease but it tends to run in families as a genetic condition. Symptoms can become life-threatening if we don’t deal with them. Luckily, treatment can cause them to go into remission so it’s not all negative. Check out the warning signs of Crohn’s Disease now.

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Verywell Health

Stomach Cramps

This is one of the most common symptoms of Crohn’s Disease. The condition affects the entire digestive system so it’s not surprising that it unsettles the stomach. Many people find that they feel unusual cramping in their stomach because the body is overreacting to bacteria.

Stomach cramps may lead to some of the other symptoms on this list because they’re so uncomfortable. Consult a doctor if they persist or seem unusual. Women often suffer from cramps during menstruation and food can trigger them. Nonetheless, they are also a sign of Crohn’s Disease if they’re persistent. (via Health Direct)

Unexplained Weight Loss

Sudden Weight Loss

Another sign of Crohn’s Disease is sudden weight loss. This can happen inadvertently for a couple of reasons and it relates to some of the other symptoms. Diarrhea can cause weight loss if we don’t replace the food and fluids that leave the body. This can be very dangerous without treatment.

Stomach cramps will also cause weight loss if it stops the patient from eating. They may not want food because their stomach is in pain and it feels too uncomfortable. Sudden weight loss is rarely normal so consult a medical practitioner if it persists. Crohn’s Disease disrupts the digestive system so this is a common result. (via RMG)

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Prashant Kedja MD

Bleeding Rectum

This is one of the most serious signs of Crohn’s Disease because it means the condition is worsening. Anal fissures may occur and result in rectum bleeding. This is very unpleasant to experience and frightening. Anybody who is suffering from this should immediately go to a doctor.

Often a bleeding rectum can happen after untreated diarrhea. The anal tissue becomes extra sensitive and degrades. Furthermore, the fissures may be painful and itchy leading to more complications. Most people hate the prospect of a rectal examination but this is severe (via Penn Medicine).

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Blueberry Pediatrics

Slow Growth (Children)

Usually, Crohn’s Disease presents itself between the ages of 15 and 35. However, it can affect people of any age and some symptoms only afflict specific age groups. Children and young teenagers can experience two signs that adults won’t. One is slower growth and the other is delayed sexual development.

This is because it stops children from absorbing the necessary nutrients for normal growth. It’s painful to eat so they don’t consume as much food. Another issue is that the treatment drugs can also cause a delay. Boys are significantly more likely to have this issue than girls (via UCSF).

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Joint Pain

Another sign of Crohn’s Disease is joint pain and swelling in our hands, feet, and knees. Many people mistakenly think that the condition only affects the gut and digestive system but that’s not true. This is one of the most common symptoms of this degenerative disease because it causes inflammation.

Crohn’s Disease disrupts the immune system and this triggers inflammation in the joints. Furthermore, arthritis can occur in some patients and requires a blood test. Inexperienced doctors may not think to check the joints so it’s worth knowing about. Then effective treatment can begin to improve the overall quality of life. (via Crohn’s and Colitis UK)

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Only My Health

Irregular Periods

Here’s a symptom that may affect young women. Crohn’s Disease can impact the menstruation cycle with unpleasant and stressful results. Firstly, they may become less regular and more painful. This can be alarming if the patient doesn’t know what they’re going through.

But menstruation can impact other Crohn’s Disease symptoms too. Nausea and gas are two of the worst that may occur as a result of the condition. It can also trigger diarrhea in some cases because of the disrupted digestive tract. Treatment and birth control can alleviate these signs (via Healthline).

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Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

Appetite Loss

We’ve talked already about how Crohn’s Disease can cause the sufferer to lose weight. This may be a conscious issue because they are in too much pain to want to eat. It can also trigger one of the most common early signs, appetite loss. This may be before they begin to feel uncomfortable but it comes from the same source.

Inflammation in the gut will reduce the compulsion to eat. Eventually, it may progress and that’s when the likes of cramping and diarrhea will occur. Many people might not even realize that they’re not eating as much as usual. They may even put it down to other reasons like inactivity (via Health Direct).

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VeryWell Health

Red Eyes

Many people don’t realize that Crohn’s Disease can cause problems across the body. It can even affect the eyes because they become sensitive and sore. They may even suffer from inflammation and turn red. The medical term for this is Episcleritis and it’s a known sign of Crohn’s Disease.

Usually, the redness isn’t sore but it is alarming to see. It may also make vision blurry, cause watery eyes, and affect light filtration. Consult a doctor because this is never normal and may worsen. Episcleritis can progress to glaucoma and this may result in permanent vision loss (via Women’s Health Mag).

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Fever isn’t the most obvious sign of Crohn’s Disease because it’s a common symptom of many illnesses. This happens after the intestine inflames and develops swelling. A fever will spread and the body’s temperature will fluctuate. Night sweating will often occur and some people even feel cold.

Unfortunately, fever can sometimes be a side-effect of Crohn’s Disease medication. However, it will dissipate after a week so it doesn’t last for too long. It’s crucial to drink enough fluids during this time and avoid caffeine. Doctors will often prescribe ibuprofen to help reduce the temperature (via Temple Health).

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Iron Deficiency

Crohn’s Disease can also cause an iron deficiency. Often people don’t realize that there is bleeding in the digestive tract. It can happen over a very long period without any obvious signs. This causes anemia which is when the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells.

Untreated anemia is no joke because it can lead to heart and lung problems. Usually, doctors prescribe iron deficiency tablets to help counter the minor effects. Take these pills on an empty stomach before drinking orange juice for faster absorption. Meanwhile, green vegetables like spinach are another great natural source of iron. (via NHS)

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Fertility Family

Mood Swings/Anxiety

We’ve focused on the physical signs of Crohn’s Disease. But what about the effect on mental health? When people endure the other symptoms on this list they may consciously or unconsciously feel anxious or even angry. Red eyes and rectum bleeding are stressful and frightening symptoms.

That’s why it’s crucial not to waste time worrying about something and trying to avoid going to the doctor. Seek medical attention as soon as it becomes clear that a symptom isn’t normal. It may have nothing to do with Crohn’s Disease but it’s the doctor’s job to help (via Medical News Today).

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Centenary Institute

Inflamed Liver

Crohn’s Disease also increases the risk of liver problems. An inflamed liver may occur as a result of the condition. After diagnosis, it may be necessary to have regular liver screenings because it can be severe. The early signs of liver damage aren’t obvious but fatigue and rapid bruising are symptoms.

Furthermore, it may cause fatty liver disease which is an unpleasant complication. This will require more medical attention and treatment. Usually, doctors recommend losing weight or managing cholesterol levels to reduce fat build-ups in the liver. Rarely, Crohn’s Disease medical drugs can also damage the liver (via Centenary Institute).

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Bloody Stool

Here’s one of the most common early signs of Crohn’s Disease. This can be very alarming when people don’t expect it A bloody stool may occur for several reasons. We already mentioned anal fissures but these can deposit blood in the stool when it’s exiting the body.

However, Crohn’s Disease in the colon is the most common cause of bloody feces. This is because of bleeding inside the organ but usually people don’t realize it’s happening. Hemorrhoids can also develop in the anus because of Crohn’s Disease. These engorged blood vessels can also lead to bloody stools. (via IBD)

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Medical News Today

Skin Rash

Most people know that Crohn’s Disease damages the digestive system. But one of the most common signs of the disease is skin problems. A rash may spread across the body in painful bumps. Another issue is that melanin can stop working so there are pale patches across the skin.

Some people also suffer from skin tags which is when growths arise from skin rubbing against skin. They may grow around anal fissures and hemorrhoids but they are harmless. Usually, medication will clear these issues up relatively smoothly. Consult a doctor if they suddenly arise out of nowhere and don’t disappear quickly. (via Healthline)

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Health Central

Pain During Intercourse

This is a sign that some women experience when they have Crohn’s Disease. Flare-ups can cause vaginal pain and inflammation. Another issue is that the pelvic muscles may contract leading to a very uncomfortable experience. That’s why a diagnosis is important because it’s important to manage this for a healthy relationship.

Crohn’s Disease can also have another impact on a positive sex life. Even if it doesn’t cause active pain, it commonly leads to fatigue. Many women struggle to find the motivation to spend intimate time with their partner in this situation. Discuss this with doctors because they may have a solution (via Patient UK).

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Health Central


Medical experts note that arthritis is the most common extraintestinal result of Crohn’s Disease. This can affect both young and old people so it’s important to take note of the symptoms regardless of age. 30 percent of Crohn’s Disease sufferers will also endure arthritis because they have a greater susceptibility.

Usually, it impacts the body’s biggest joints like the knees and elbows. However, another variation of arthritis may affect the lower back and this can be very uncomfortable. Arthritis symptoms may improve or worsen over time. It’s important to get a rapid diagnosis so doctors can begin treatment (via Everyday Health).

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Here’s another of the most common warning signs of Crohn’s Disease. The condition afflicts the digestive tract and can make eating very uncomfortable. Strictures can develop in the small intestine and the organ may begin to tighten. This means that food can’t pass regularly and may lead to unwanted side effects.

The problem is that there’s no sign of this until the vomiting and nausea happen. The person may appear to be healthy but then suddenly they’re vomiting. Experts advocate immediate medical attention because this is very serious. They may even require surgery in the most severe cases (via NYU Langone).

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Unity Point Health


Crohn’s Disease can cause fatigue in many ways. Firstly, if people aren’t eating enough food they won’t replenish their energy levels. We require a certain amount of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to function at full capacity. Meanwhile, an iron deficiency can cause anemia, leading to fatigue and weakness.

Another issue is that Crohn’s Disease can cause aching joints. This can affect the quality of sleep too especially if it impacts the lower back. It won’t shock anybody to learn that not sleeping will leave them tired. Fatigue won’t occur by itself but because of another symptom (via Springer Open).

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Mouth Ulcers

Many people suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies when they have Crohn’s Disease. It’s easy to miss this in the beginning but it’s a clear sign of the condition. Some sufferers have mouth ulcers before they notice any digestive problems. Up to half of Crohn’s Disease patients will endure ulcers at some point.

Usually, inflammation causes these painful round growths. They may arise in clusters and have a yellow or grey color. Rarely, they may take the form of pustules and contain fluid that can burst. Bleeding gums is another problem that may arise as a result of Crohn’s Disease (via Medical News Today).

Diarrhea Scaled


One of the least pleasant early signs of Crohn’s Disease is diarrhea. This can be very severe in the worst cases. The inflamed digestive tract can cause many nasty side effects including loose and watery stools. It may reach a stage where it is even entirely fluid because there’s no food left in the body.

That’s why many Crohn’s Disease sufferers inadvertently lose weight or have vitamin deficiencies. Diarrhea is very serious if we don’t treat it quickly. However, it’s nothing to feel embarrassed about because it’s one of the most common symptoms of IBD patients (via Self).