Signs and Symptoms

common signs and symptoms of crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis

  • 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 in people with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can be different.  

False Urges

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

Pain

People with colitis typically don't experience pain during remission. Also, during flare-ups, pain or cramping seem to arise with the urge to have a bowel movement.

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.

Complications and Extra-Intestinal Manifesations 

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

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

If you have been recently diagnosed with Crohn's or colitis, visit our Newly Diagnosed page for more information and resources. 

strengthen your knowledge of living with crohn's and colitis

Visit the Living with Crohn's and Colitis section of our website to learn about diet and nutrition in IBD, treatment options, complications of IBD, symptom management, 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!

 

  • 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.

Other Areas of Interest