Signs and Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis

Common signs and symptoms of IBD include: 
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Diarrhea (severe and bloody stools with colitis)
  • Rectal bleeding (common with colitis)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diminished appetite and weight loss
  • Gas or flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Sores in the mouth and around anus

See your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms. Your doctor may run some tests to help determine if these symptoms are due to inflammation in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract or other causes. Visit our Testing and Diagnosis page to learn more. 

How do symptoms differ between Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis?

Since Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis differ in how they affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the symptoms of these diseases can also differ. Below are examples of how symptoms and complications in people with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can be different:  

  • False Urges: Many people with ulcerative colitis experience an urgency to have a bowel movement that arises frequently during the day. People with false urges have an extremely urgent need to expel feces, and yet, when they try to this this, they discover that they only have a small amount to pass. This sense of urgency is due to inflammation of the rectum. 

  • Pain: In people with Crohn's disease, pain can be felt throughout the entire abdomen. Whereas with coltitis, pain is typically localized to the left area of the abdomen.

  • Sores in the mouth or the anus occur more often in people with Crohn's disease than ulcerative colitis.

  • Perianal disease is more common in Crohn's disease than ulcerative colitis. With perianal disease, a person could develop: swollen skin tags (around the anus that appear to be haemhorrhoids but are not); abscesses (bags of pus created inside the body as a result of infection);  fistulas (infections that have tunneled from the abscess to a hollow organ such as the rectum or vagina)

To learn more about the causes and management of symptoms in Crohn's and colitis, please visit the Symptom Management section of our website

Have you been recently diagnosed with Crohn's or colitis?

You or someone you care about has been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). You likely have a lot of questions, coupled with a fair degree of concern and uncertainty. You are not alone. One in 140 Canadians are living with Crohn’s and colitis. You have started a journey of discovery that will help you to cope with your disease and not just survive, but thrive.

Watch our 4-Part Newly Diagnosed Webinar Series below to get an overview of what you should know about living with IBD from a nurse and expert in the field of IBD. Topics include risk factors, treatment options, diet and nutrition, symptom management, disease complications, and more. 

If you're an older adult that has been diagnosed with Crohn's or colitis, click here watch our Living with IBD in Older Adulthood webinar to learn more about the impact of these diseases as you age. 

Strengthen your knowledge of living with Crohn's and colitis

Visit the IBD Journey section of our website to learn about living with Crohn's and colitis including testing and getting diagnosed, diet and nutrition, medication and treatment options, pain and symptom management, mental health and wellness, insurance and government support, and other essential information.  

Find a community near you

Your local chapter of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is a powerhouse of health information and support. Through education, presentation, and discussion, people can find resources to help them cope with their Crohn’s, and meet others who are living with Crohn’s or colitis.

Visit our Find My Community page to look up the chapter closest to you. It’s in your best interest to get active and informed!

Peer support

Do you want to talk to someone that has been affected by IBD? Our Gutsy Peer Support Mentors are ready to answer your questions, provide advice, and share their experiences with you.

Click here to find out more about our Gutsy Support program to connect with others online via email, video, and/or audio chat.

Child and youth programs  

Are you a young person living with IBD, or a caregiver of a child with IBD? Crohn's and Colitis Canada offers programs for children and youth that have been diagnosed with Crohn's or colitis, including camp for kids and teens, and scholarships for post-secondary students

Contact us

If you can't find your answer here or need more support, our Crohn's and Colitis support staff are here to help you!

Please use the contact form below to submit your questions or comments to us. We will respond to you via email within 3 buisness days.

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You can also reach us by telephone at 1-800-387-1479.

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada cannot offer personal medical advice. Please contact your primary healthcare provider or IBD specialist if you require medical assistance. 

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.