Crohn’s disease : Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Symptoms & Signs

Symptoms depend on what part of the gastrointestinal tract is affected. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and can come and go with periods of flare-ups.

The main symptoms of Crohn’s disease are:

  • Crampy abdominal (belly area) pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain with passing stool (tenesmus)
  • Persistent, watery diarrhea
  • Unintentional weight loss

Other symptoms may include:

  • Constipation
  • Eye inflammation
  • Fistulas (usually around the rectal area, may cause draining of pus, mucus, or stools)
  • Joint pain
  • Liver inflammation
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Rectal bleeding and bloody stools
  • Skin rash
  • Swollen gums

Diagnosis & Tests

A physical examination may reveal an abdominal mass or tenderness, skin rash, swollen joints, or mouth ulcers. Tests to diagnose Crohn’s disease include:

  • Barium enema
  • Colonoscopy
  • Computed tomography (CT scan) of the abdomen
  • Endoscopy, including capsule endoscopy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the abdomen
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Enteroscopy
  • Upper GI series

A stool culture may be done to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms.

This disease may also alter the results of the following tests:

  • Albumin
  • C-reactive protein
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • Fecal fat
  • Hemoglobin
  • Liver function tests
  • White blood cell count


Review Date : 10/18/2009
Reviewed By : David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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