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Signs and Symptoms

Abdominal pain, diarrhea and occasional rectal bleeding are the most common symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Diarrhea can vary from mild to severe with as many as 20 trips to the bathroom in one day. If stools contain blood, anemia, fatigue and decreased activity can become an issue. The condition often comes and goes. Some patients may experience long remissions in their symptoms, sometimes even without medications.

A less common symptom of inflammatory bowel disease is constipation. Obstruction, a serious complication that includes constipation, may be caused by the development of strictures in Crohn's disease. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, a feeling of fullness and bloating, oral ulcerations. Some individuals with inflammatory bowel disease will develop skin tags that are similar to hemorrhoids or abscesses around the anus. Because inflammatory bowel disease interferes with nutrition in children and teens it can cause a delay in puberty or growth problems such as growth delay or growth arrest. Rarely does inflammatory bowel disease present with non-intestinal symptoms such as fever, arthritis, joint pain, skin rash or jaundice.