Common Symptoms of Crohn's Disease

Signs and symptoms vary from person to person, but there are some similarities

Young woman with stomach pain
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Crohn's disease is an incurable disease of the digestive tract that, along with ulcerative colitis, is one of the main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Crohn's disease can cause a variety of symptoms, although not all patients have every possible symptom. In addition, symptoms may be experienced differently between patients, such as the severity of abdominal pain or the frequency of diarrhea.

The common symptoms of Crohn's disease include:

  • ulcerations in the digestive tract
  • abdominal pain
  • bloody diarrhea
  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • mucus in the stool

Ulceration in the Digestive Tract

Crohn's disease causes deep ulceration in the walls of the digestive tract. Diseased sections alternate with healthy tissue, causing what is often described as a "cobblestone" appearance.

The ulcers tend to appear in the same section of the digestive tract each time the condition flares up, but the inflammation could spread to other parts of the digestive tract. The disease may affect new parts of the intestine at times, especially after some diseased tissue is removed during surgery.

Abdominal Pain and Cramping

Pain from Crohn's disease may feel like cramps, aches, or sharp pains in the abdomen. In Crohn's disease, pain tends to be below the belly button and on the lower right side of the abdomen. Most cases of Crohn's disease involve the last part of the small intestine (the ileum), which is located in the lower right abdominal quadrant and along the mid-belly.

Many other conditions, including ulcerative colitis, can also cause abdominal pain, so this symptom alone is not necessarily useful to diagnosing Crohn's disease. Some people with Crohn's disease have very severe pain, while others do not have pain to that same degree.

Blood in the Stool

Inflammation in the digestive tract from Crohn's disease can lead to bleeding, which may be seen as blood passed in the stool.

With Crohn's disease, the blood may be within the stool and often appears thick and dark. However, this symptom is not present in all people with Crohn's disease.


Diarrhea is a common symptom of Crohn's disease, and in some cases may be the very first symptom. When the digestive tract, and especially the small intestine, is inflamed, it can result in loose stools, dehydration, or nutritional deficiencies.


Crohn's disease is an inflammatory disease, which means that the body is fighting off the inflammation in the digestive tract. When the disease is actively flaring up, it could cause a fever, which may be either high- or low-grade. Fevers can also lead to night sweats and interrupted sleep, which in turn leads to daytime fatigue.

Lack of Appetite

A loss of appetite is common in people who have Crohn's disease. Not eating enough food, or not eating enough nutritious food, could ultimately lead to other signs and symptoms, such as weight loss and fatigue.

Mucus in the Stool

People with Crohn's disease may pass mucus in their stool from time to time. However, this sign of IBD is not as common with Crohn's disease as it is in people who have ulcerative colitis.


The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. "What Is Crohn’s Disease?" 2014. 16 Sept 2015.

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. "Crohn's Disease." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases 10 Jul 2013. 16 Sept 2015.