Crohn’s Disease

Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes swelling or inflammation of your digestive tract, which can cause a wide range of digestive problems, such as severe diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

While Crohn’s disease can affect any part of your digestive system, it most commonly affects the final part of your small intestine and your large intestine (bowel). The symptoms of Crohn’s disease are typically intermittent, meaning you may experience times with very few symptoms and flare-ups where the symptoms are much worse.

What Are the Symptoms of Crohn's Disease?


While you may not experience all of these, the most common symptoms of Crohn's disease are:

  • Diarrhoea, which may come on suddenly and be severe and may also contain blood or mucus

  • Stomach cramps and abdominal pain, which may be severe and debilitating, are typically felt in the lower right part of your tummy.

  • Feeling extremely tired

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Feeling or being sick

  • Crohn’s disease can also affect other areas of your body too. While these symptoms are less common, they are not unusual in sufferers.

  • A high temperature

  • Joint pains

  • Mouth ulcers

  • Sore, red eyes

  • Patches of painful red skin – usually on your legs

  • A fever

  • How is Crohn's Disease Diagnosed?


    Your GP will examine you and ask about your symptoms and your medical and family history.

    Your GP may ask for a stool (poo) sample from you to check for bacterial infections and for high levels of a substance called calprotectin, which can indicate inflammation in your bowel. You may also get a blood test to check your iron levels and see if you have anaemia.

    Finally, your GP may refer you to a specialist who can perform other tests, including:

    • A colonoscopy

    • A CT or MRI scan

    • A capsule endoscopy, where a doctor will ask you to swallow a small camera that takes pictures of your bowel as it passes through your digestive system

    How Do You Treat Crohn’s Disease?


    While there isn’t a cure for Crohn’s disease, there are treatments that can help ease your symptoms during a flare-up. These can include:

    • Steroids – These can help relieve symptoms by reducing inflammation

    • A liquid diet – Liquids are easier to digest than solid foods, which can help ease symptoms.

    • Immunosuppressants – these medicines can be a long-term treatment that can reduce the activity of your immune system, which can, in turn, reduce the swelling and inflammation in your digestive tract

    • Biological medicines – If other medicines don’t work, stronger biological medicines can be another long-term treatment to relieve symptoms

    • Surgery – Surgeons may be able to remove a section of your bowel that is inflamed and causing problems if your doctor or consultant thinks that the benefits outweigh the risk of having an operation 

    When Should You See a Doctor?


    If you think you have Crohn’s disease, you should arrange to see a GP to get a diagnosis. If you haven't registered with a doctor, you can register with us online 24/7 by clicking here.

    It is also vital to see a GP or medical professional as soon as possible by asking for an emergency appointment if you have any of the following symptoms:

    • Diarrhoea for more than seven days

    • Blood in your poo

    • Frequent and consistent stomach aches or cramps

    • Unexpected weight loss

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