Common Symptoms of IBD

Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are chronic ongoing and life-long conditions in which symptoms vary from person to person and may range from mild to severe.

Symptoms may also change over time, with periods of good health when you have few or no symptoms (remission) alternating with times when your symptoms are more active (relapses or ‘flare-ups’).


  • Diarrhea. This is sometimes mixed with blood, mucus and pus

  • Cramping pains in the abdomen. These can be very severe and often occur before passing a stool

  • Tiredness and fatigue. This can be due to the illness itself, from anemia (see below) from the side effects of some of the drugs used for IBD or from a lack of sleep if you have to keep getting up at night with pain or diarrhea

  • Feeling generally unwell. Some people may feel feverish

  • Loss of appetite and loss of weight. Weight loss can be due to the body not absorbing nutrients from the food you eat because of the inflammation in the gut

  • Anemia (a reduced number of red blood cells). You are more likely to develop anemia if you are losing a lot of blood and are not eating much

  • Mouth ulcers


Some people with IBD, particularly Crohn’s Disease, may develop complications, including:

  • Strictures. This is when there is ongoing inflammation and then healing in the bowel which may cause scar tissue to form. This can create a narrow section of the bowel, called a stricture. These are also more common in people with CD

  • Fistulas. A fistula is an abnormal channel or passageway connecting one internal organ to another (for example, fistulas can connect one part of the intestine to another or intestine to the other structures (skin, bladder, vagina, etc). Perianal fistulas are the most common fistulas. These are also more common in people with CD


IBD can sometimes affect other parts of the body, including joints, eyes and liver. These symptoms are referred to as extraintestinal manifestations. Please refer to the Extraintestinal Manifestations section for more information.


IBD symptoms can be very awkward and distressing. But there are ways to manage some of these and make life that little bit easier: Please refer to the Symptom Management section for more information.

You may also be concerned about links between IBD and other conditions. See information on: