Symptoms & Causes of Crohn’s Disease

What are the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?

The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are

Other symptoms include

  • anemia
  • eye redness or pain
  • feeling tired
  • fever
  • joint pain or soreness
  • nausea or loss of appetite
  • skin changes that involve red, tender bumps under the skin

Your symptoms may vary depending on the location and severity of your inflammation.

Some research suggests that stress, including the stress of living with Crohn’s disease, can make symptoms worse. Also, some people may find that certain foods can trigger or worsen their symptoms.

What causes Crohn’s disease?

Doctors aren’t sure what causes Crohn’s disease. Experts think the following factors may play a role in causing Crohn’s disease.

Autoimmune reaction

One cause of Crohn’s disease may be an autoimmune reaction—when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body. Experts think bacteria in your digestive tract can mistakenly trigger your immune system. This immune system response causes inflammation, leading to symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

Genes

Crohn’s disease sometimes runs in families. Research has shown that if you have a parent or sibling with Crohn’s disease, you may be more likely to develop the disease. Experts continue to study the link between genes and Crohn’s disease.

Other factors

Some studies suggest that other factors may increase your chance of developing Crohn’s disease:

  • Smoking may double your chance of developing Crohn’s disease.4
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen,5 antibiotics,6 and birth-control pills6 may slightly increase the chance of developing Crohn’s disease.
  • A high-fat diet may also slightly increase your chance of getting Crohn’s disease.7

Stress and eating certain foods do not cause Crohn’s disease.

References

September 2017
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.