Signs Your IBD May Be Flaring

Abdominal Pain

Abdominal Quadrants
Knowing which quadrant your abdominal pain is located in can be helpful information to give your physician. Photo © A.D.A.M.

Abdominal pain (what people might also call stomach pain) is a very common symptom of an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) flare-up. Pain from ulcerative colitis tends to be located in the lower left quadrant (or section) of the abdomen and is often crampy in nature.

Pain from Crohn's disease could be located in almost any area of the abdomen, depending on what section of the intestine (either the large intestine or the small intestine) is affected. In the two most common forms of Crohn's disease, pain might be found in the middle or the lower right abdomen. Pain in the abdomen has many potential sources; therefore, the location is an important factor in helping a physician understand what might be causing it.


Abdominal Pain
Diarrhea may be the first symptom you have that indicates your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is back again. Photo © Ohmega1982

One of the more troublesome symptoms of IBD, diarrhea can be an indication of a flare-up, especially if it is bloody. Some people with IBD also experience an intense need to move the bowels (called tenesmus) along with the diarrhea. In some cases, people feel very tired after having diarrhea, particularly when it is happening several times a day.

Diarrhea happens to everyone, but diarrhea that is not caused by IBD will typically resolve itself in a few days. With IBD, diarrhea will not abate on its own. For most people, the normal range for bowel movements is between one and three a day. During a flare-up, people with IBD could experience many more -- in a severe case, that could mean 10 or more bouts of diarrhea a day. Diarrhea that is accompanied by blood or abdominal pain should always be discussed with your physician as soon as possible.

An Unexplained Fever

Fevers can be a symptom of many different viral or inflammatory illnesses. Fever can also be a sign that your IBD is flaring. Photo © Getideaka

Fevers are a common symptom, and as most adults experience viral illnesses a few times a year, a short-term fever is usually no cause for alarm. However, a fever can also be an indication that there is inflammation somewhere in the body. IBD causes inflammation in the intestinal tract, and it could wind up causing a fever. In some cases, fevers can occur during the night, disrupting sleep and leading to night sweats. If you can't find another cause for your fever, such as the flu, it could be a result of an IBD flare-up, especially if other signs and symptoms of a flare-up are present. If you find that a fever does not go away in a few days, you should contact your physician.

Blood In Your Stool

Kohler Highline Pressure Lite Two Piece Elongated Toilet
Blood in or on your stool should always be evaluated by your physician. Photo © Kohler

Blood in the stool is a very common sign of ulcerative colitis, but it is less common in Crohn's disease. There are many causes of blood in the stool, but if you have already been diagnosed with IBD, frank bright red blood in the stool could indicate that your IBD is flaring up.

Another common cause of blood in your stool or on the paper you use to wipe yourself is hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids tend to plague people who have IBD, especially if diarrhea is also present. Blood in the stool should always be evaluated by your physician, whether you think it is from IBD or not. Your doctor can determine the cause of the blood, whether it is coming from your colon, some hemorrhoids, or even further up in the intestinal tract.

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