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Symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Symptoms of Crohn’s diseases or colitis vary in their severity from person to person. The symptoms tend to come and go over time as the inflammation in the bowel flares up and then dies down again.

Colitis

In colitis, inflammation in the bowel lining can cause tiny ulcers (open sores) to form. The ulcers can cause bleeding, and blood and mucus is often present in the stool.

Because the inflamed bowel is less able to absorb water, diarrhoea develops. There may also be crampy abdominal pains.

If there is inflammation in the rectum you may feel an urgent need to have a bowel movement.

Crohn’s disease

Diarrhoea and abdominal pains are also common symptoms in Crohn’s disease, but there is often no obvious blood or mucus in the diarrhoea.

Mouth ulcers, tiredness, weight loss and fever are also common symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease can also cause pain or swelling around the anus (back passage).

Please see your doctor if you are concerned about any of these symptoms.

Sources: Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand (Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis), Crohn’s and Colitis Australia (What is ulcerative colitis?), Gastroenterological Society of Australia (Publication - GESA, DHF. Information about Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. (2011)), Digestive Health Foundation (Publication - Andrews JM, Sinclair M. Australian Guidelines for General Practitioners and Physicians. Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Third Edition, 2013.)

Last reviewed: September 2015

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