Understanding Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis: Recognising the Signs

Understanding Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis: Recognising the Signs

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are types of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). These conditions cause chronic inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract, leading to uncomfortable symptoms.

Crohn's disease can affect any part of the digestive system, from the mouth to the anus, causing patches of inflammation that penetrate deep into the bowel wall.

Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, specifically targets the large intestine (colon) and rectum, resulting in continuous inflammation and ulcers along the inner lining of the colon.

Both conditions can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fatigue, and weight loss. While there's no known cure, treatments aim to reduce inflammation, manage symptoms, and improve quality of life for those affected.

Common Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis:

Early recognition of symptoms is crucial for timely diagnosis and effective management. Here are some signs to look out for:

Abdominal Pain: Persistent or recurring abdominal discomfort, cramping, and pain are hallmark symptoms. The location and intensity of pain can vary depending on the affected area of the digestive tract.

Diarrhea: Frequent and often urgent bowel movements with blood, mucus, or pus is common in both conditions. Diarrhea may be accompanied by a feeling of incomplete bowel emptying.

Rectal Bleeding: Blood in the stool or noticed when wiping after a bowel movement could indicate inflammation or ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract.

Weight Loss and Fatigue: Ongoing inflammation in the gut can interfere with nutrient absorption, leading to weight loss. Persistent fatigue may also result from the body’s efforts to combat the inflammation.

Changes in Bowel Habits: Consistent changes in bowel habits, including constipation or diarrhea, should be monitored, especially when these changes persist over weeks or months.

Fever and Malaise: Inflammatory bowel diseases can trigger systemic symptoms like fever, a general feeling of being unwell, and joint pain.

Loss of Appetite: Reduced appetite or a loss of interest in eating can be a result of abdominal discomfort or the body's response to inflammation.

Additional Symptoms Specific to Crohn’s Disease:

Mouth Sores: Ulcers in the mouth can be an indication of Crohn’s disease.

Perianal Disease: Abscesses, fistulas, or skin tags around the anus might occur in Crohn’s disease.

Additional Symptoms Specific to Ulcerative Colitis:

Rectal Bleeding: Often a key symptom and may be the first noticeable sign of ulcerative colitis.

Urgency to Defecate: Feeling a sudden and frequent need to have a bowel movement.

When to Seek Medical Attention:

If you or someone you know experiences persistent or severe symptoms suggestive of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, it’s crucial to seek medical advice promptly. Timely diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms, prevent complications, and improve overall quality of life.

Remember, everyone’s experience with IBD can differ, and symptoms may fluctuate in severity over time. If you suspect you might have these conditions or have concerns, consulting a healthcare professional is essential for accurate diagnosis and personalized care.

Awareness and understanding play key roles in managing and supporting those affected by Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

 Let’s raise awareness and support individuals living with these conditions!

By Lisa Barry


Seyedian, S. S., Nokhostin, F., & Malamir, M. D. (2019). A review of the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment methods of inflammatory bowel disease. Journal of medicine and life12(2), 113–122. https://doi.org/10.25122/jml-2018-0075

Ranasinghe, I.R. and Hsu, R. (2022). Crohn Disease. [online] PubMed. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK436021/.

Related Products