Crohn’s disease symptoms are often mistaken for other, less serious maladies such as indigestion on the mild end, or influenza for more moderate to severe symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease can range from mild to severe and may develop gradually or come on suddenly, without warning.” If Crohn’s disease or other gastrointestinal diseases run in your family, or if you know that you’re in a high-risk group for Crohn’s disease, it is important to be on the lookout for potentially worrisome symptoms.
Digestive symptoms. Probably some of the most common and most recognizable symptoms of Crohn’s disease are those that directly affect the digestive tract. These typically include diarrhea, moderate to severe abdominal cramping, and ulcers anywhere in the digestive tract. Sores in the mouth may occur in severe cases. In addition, inflammation may include the liver and/or bile duct, resulting in jaundice and possibly more serious liver conditions.
Systemic reactions. While symptoms that are obviously related to the digestive tract may be easy to identify in a general sense, Crohn’s disease often produces symptoms that are more often associated with a cold or flu, which may make misidentification even more likely. These include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and other such symptoms that are also consistent with major infections. Over time, children with untreated Crohn’s disease may suffer from delayed physical development, malnutrition or other problems as a result. Less commonly, inflammation in the eyes and various skin issues may develop.
Serious symptoms. While any of the symptoms of Crohn’s disease have the potential to be very serious, and some of the complications of Crohn’s disease can be deadly, there are a number of symptoms that should prompt you to seek emergency medical attention. These include black, tarry or visibly bloody stools; persistence of diarrhea, despite time and possibly over-the-counter treatments; and persistent, unexplained fever. If any symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease surface and become worrisome, consult with your doctor immediately. When properly treated, it is not uncommon for the disease to go into remission and for the afflicted person to live a relatively healthy, active life.