The main symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- Abdominal pain. The pain often is described as cramping and intermittent, and the abdomen may be sore when touched. Abdominal pain may turn to a dull, constant ache as the condition progresses.
- Diarrhea. Some people may have diarrhea 10 to 20 times a day. Crohn’s disease may cause blood in stools, but not always.
- Loss of appetite
- Fever. In severe cases, fever or other symptoms that affect the entire body may develop. A high fever may mean that you have a complication involving infection, such as an abscess.
- Weight loss. Ongoing symptoms, such as diarrhea, can lead to weight loss.
- Too few red blood cells (anemia). Some people with Crohn’s disease develop anemia because of low iron levels caused by bloody stools or the intestinal inflammation itself.
People with Crohn’s disease may also have:
- Sores in the mouth
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Bowel obstruction
- Disease in or around the anus
- Pockets of infection (abscesses)
- Skin tags
Doctors will likely diagnose Crohn’s disease only after ruling out other possible causes for your signs and symptoms, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis and colon cancer.
To help confirm a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, you may have one or more of the following tests and procedures:
- Blood tests
- Fecal occult blood test
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Computerized tomography (CT)
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Capsule endoscopy
- Double balloon endoscopy
- Small bowel imaging
- Barium enema
Currently there is not a cure for Crohn’s disease and there is no one treatment that works for everyone. The goal of medical treatment is to reduce the inflammation that triggers your signs and symptoms and to improve long-term prognosis by limiting complications. In the best cases, this may lead not only to symptom relief but also to long-term remission. Treatment for Crohn’s disease usually involves drug therapy or, in certain cases, surgery.
Mesalamine (Asacol, Rowasa)
- Immune System Suppressors
Certolizumab Pegol (Cimzia)
Cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune)
- Metronidazole (Flagyl)
- Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
- Other Medications
Vitamin B-12 Shots
Calcium and vitamin D supplements
- Bowel obstruction
- Anal fissure
- Colon cancer
- Kidney stones
Treatment can cause side effects, but it is important that a person never change their dosage or stop taking their medication without talking to their doctor or pharmacist.
Common side effects for the different treatment options for Crohn’s disease include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs – Nausea, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea and headache
- Steroids – Weight gain, increased appetite, anxiety, nervousness and increased risk of developing an infection
- Immune system suppressors – Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and increased risk of developing an infection
- Antibiotics – Nausea, vomiting, headache, constipation, diarrhea and dizziness
- Biologic therapy – Cough, nausea, vomiting, rash, weakness, upper respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections and back pain