Crohn's and Colitis For Dummies
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Crohn’s and colitis are two different diseases, but they share many of the same symptoms. Here’s a list of the common symptoms of Crohn’s and colitis:

  • Chronic diarrhea: Diarrhea is the frequent passage of watery or semi-formed stools. Everybody gets diarrhea from time to time, but chronic diarrhea (lasting longer than 30 days) is a common symptom of Crohn’s and colitis.

  • Blood in the stool: You may notice bright red blood in your stool, or your stool may be black in color (which is a sign of old, clotted blood).

  • Abdominal pain: You may experience abdominal pain, anywhere in the abdomen.

  • Rectal urgency: When you have Crohn’s or colitis, you may experience a sudden, compelling need to have a bowel movement. This is known as rectal urgency.

  • Tenesmus: Tenesmus is a constant sensation of fullness and incomplete relief during a bowel movement. You may feel like you need to go to the bathroom, but then you don’t have an actual bowel movement.

Consult your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Intolerable abdominal pain: If you develop intolerable abdominal pain, it may point toward intestinal obstruction, perforation, or severe inflammation. You may also notice other signs like nausea, vomiting, and abdominal distension.

  • Weight loss: When you have Crohn’s or colitis and you’re losing weight, that’s a sign that inflammation is still active. Most of your body energy is being diverted to control inflammation, and your nutrition isn’t keeping up with the amount of energy your body is expending.

    If you’ve had colitis for many years and you’re now starting to lose weight, this could be worrisome. Longstanding colitis puts you at risk for cancer, so be sure to notify your doctor immediately about any weight loss you experience.

  • Fever and chills: If you develop any fever with or without chills, this may point toward worsening inflammation, infection in your intestines or an intestinal abscess (collection of pus).

  • Severe bleeding: If you notice blood in your stool every time you go to the bathroom, it may be a sign of severe inflammation.

If you experience any of the signs or symptoms above, consult your doctor right away.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Tauseef Ali, MD, is an expert in the field of inflammatory bowel disease. Currently, he serves as a faculty member in the Section of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. He is also the director of the OU Physicians Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center. Dr. Ali has served as an academic editor-in-chief of the World Journal of Gastroenterology.

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