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Early Warning Signs of Crohn’s Disease

More than 500,000 Americans suffer from Crohn’s disease, which is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can affect any part of your digestive tract. While there’s no cure, Crohn’s disease can be managed, and the earlier you seek treatment, the better for your health.

At Digestive Disease Specialists in Moline, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, our team offers patient-centered treatment options for Crohn’s disease. In this post, our providers discuss the early signs and symptoms of the condition, so you can seek treatment as early as possible.

Belly cramps 

Abdominal pain is a hallmark sign of Crohn’s disease in every stage, including the very earliest. Belly pain can present as a dull aching, but typically, you’ll feel cramps, often in the lower right part of your belly.


Diarrhea is another early warning sign, especially when it’s chronic or recurrent. Like many of these symptoms, diarrhea is a direct consequence of inflammation in the bowel. Many people with Crohn’s disease feel an urgent need to move their bowels, and stool is loose or runny.


Crohn’s is associated with chronic inflammation, and that inflammation is a common cause of bloating. Bloating can make you feel full even if it’s been some time since you ate. It can also cause a decrease in appetite.


No matter where it occurs, chronic inflammation takes a toll on the body, quickly leading to persistent feelings of fatigue, tiredness, or a feeling of being “run down.” In more advanced stages, inflammatory changes can prevent your body from absorbing important nutrients, which is another possible cause of chronic fatigue.


The inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease interferes with normal digestion, sometimes leading to feelings of nausea. This symptom can be especially common when inflammation affects the stomach, either alone or in addition to the bowels.

Rectal bleeding

When the bowel is irritated, you may notice bleeding from your rectum. While some causes of rectal bleeding are relatively harmless — such as a minor hemorrhoid, for example — bleeding can also occur due to Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, cancer, or other serious problems. Any amount of rectal bleeding should be evaluated by our team.

Bloody or mucousy stools

In addition to rectal bleeding, Crohn’s disease can cause bloody stools. Depending on where the bleeding is occurring, your stools might look dark or “tarry.” You may also notice a lot of mucus in your stools, which is another product of inflammation and irritation in the bowel

Joint pain

Inflammation from Crohn’s disease is mainly associated with the digestive tract, but it can manifest in other areas of the body as well. Some people with Crohn’s disease also have inflammation in their joints, causing joint pain or stiffness.


The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can be associated with a low fever. If you have a fever along with other symptoms, it’s a good idea to call the office and schedule an evaluation.

Anal fissures

An anal fissure is a tiny cut that forms around your anus. Chronic constipation and straining can sometimes cause fissures, but the inflammation from Crohn’s disease is another possible cause. Fissures are associated with pain and bleeding during bowel movements.

Without medical treatment, Crohn’s disease can take a serious toll on your health. If you’re experiencing the early signs of Crohn’s disease, don’t put off having those symptoms evaluated by our team. To learn more, request an appointment online or over the phone with Digestive Disease Specialists today.

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