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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of the two common forms of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, are similar and overlap, often making it difficult to distinguish between the two. Symptoms usually develop gradually over time but sometimes may appear suddenly and without notice. There may be times when the disease is active (flares), when symptoms are most noticeable, and periods of remission, when signs and symptoms subside, sometimes for months or years at a time.

While signs and symptoms vary in severity and differ from person to person, the most common ones include:

  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Bleeding from the rectum (blood in the stool)
  • Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss

Less common signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Joint pain
  • Skin rashes
  • In children and youth, failure to thrive and delayed growth

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