Diarrhea and abdominal pain are common Crohn's symptoms. Rectal bleeding, weight loss, and fever are examples of other symptoms of the disease. In addition to these signs and symptoms, a variety of potential complications are associated with the condition, such as intestinal blockages, nutritional deficiencies, and arthritis.
There are many possible Crohn's symptoms. These symptoms may vary depending on factors such as:
- The severity of the condition
- The age of the person affected
- Which part of the digestive tract is affected.
The most common Crohn's symptoms are abdominal pain (or stomach pain), often in the lower right area, and diarrhea. Rectal bleeding, weight loss, and fever may also occur. Bleeding may be serious and persistent, leading to anemia. Children with Crohn's disease may suffer delayed development and stunted growth.
(Click Crohn's Disease Symptoms for more information on the symptoms of Crohn's disease, including serious symptoms associated with the disease.)
The most common complication of Crohn's disease is blockage of the intestine. Blockage occurs because the disease tends to thicken the intestinal wall with swelling and scar tissue, narrowing the passage.
Crohn's disease may also cause sores, or ulcers, that tunnel through the affected area into surrounding tissues, such as the bladder, vagina, or skin. The areas around the anus and rectum are often involved. The tunnels, called fistulas, are a common complication of Crohn's disease and often become infected. Sometimes fistulas can be treated with medicine, but in some cases they may require surgery.
Nutritional complications are common in people with Crohn's disease. Deficiencies of proteins, calories, and vitamins are well documented in many cases of Crohn's disease. These deficiencies may be caused by inadequate dietary intake, intestinal loss of protein, or poor absorption (known as malabsorption).
Other complications associated with Crohn's disease include:
- Arthritis (see Enteropathic Arthritis)
- Skin problems
- Inflammation in the eyes or mouth
- Kidney stones
- Other diseases of the liver and biliary system.
Some of these problems improve with treatment for Crohn's disease, but some must be treated separately.
(Click Complications of Crohn's Disease for more information on these complications.)