Signs You May Have IBD

IBD may take time to diagnose but these are some of the common symptoms

Have you wondered if the cause of ongoing stomach problems could be Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis? Blood and mucus in the stool with abdominal pain, unintentional weight loss, abdominal pain, and diarrhea are all signs and symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These symptoms can also occur with other digestive diseases, which is why anyone who is experiencing them needs to see their primary care physician to start and probably get a referral to see a gastroenterologist. However, in some cases, having these symptoms and others ​could lead a physician to consider IBD as a possible diagnosis. Find out more about how symptoms of mucus and blood in the stool with abdominal pain and diarrhea can occur in people who have IBD.


Rectal Bleeding

Abdominal organs
Bleeding can occur anywhere in the digestive tract, but with IBD, it tends to be more common in those who have ulcerative colitis.

Bleeding from the rectum, or seeing blood in the stool, is never a normal occurrence, and it is a symptom of IBD. Many people may associate blood in the stool with colon cancer, but there are many reasons for passing bloody stools. The first thing to do is to be sure that the red or black color is indeed blood. Red foods or food coloring can cause a stool to look as though it contains blood. Hemorrhoids can cause blood on the stool or on the toilet paper, but it is usually in small amounts.

Blood in the stool is a common symptom of ulcerative colitis, and also occurs in Crohn's disease. although less frequently. Blood loss could be significant, especially with ulcerative colitis, so if there is no reason why a stool would be red, maroon, or black, or if it continues or is accompanied by diarrhea, pain, or vomiting, see a doctor immediately.


Mucus In The Stool

Passing mucus in the stool is not always a cause for alarm. After all, mucus is a normal part of stool, but it usually isn't visible with the naked eye. If there's enough mucus in the stool to be aware of it, there could be several reasons as to why it is happening. People with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease do sometimes pass visible amounts of mucus in their stool, either as a result of ulcers in the colon or possibly from the formation of a fissure.

Other conditions that can cause mucus in the stool are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bacterial infections, and bowel obstructions. People who have had surgery for ulcerative colitis and have a j-pouch (ileal pouch-anal anastomosis, or IPAA) may also pass mucus, which could be a sign of a condition called pouchitis. If the mucus is accompanied by abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea, see a doctor right away to get it checked out.


Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain (or "stomach pain") can be a tricky problem to diagnose because it is so non-specific and can be a symptom of many different diseases. People with ulcerative colitis tend to have cramp-like pain that is located in the lower left of the abdomen, and people with Crohn's disease tend to have pain in the middle or the lower right of the abdomen (although pain could show up in other parts of the abdomen too). Not everyone with IBD has pain, and the pain may come and go, sometimes occurring after a meal or being relieved by having a bowel movement. People with IBS may also have abdominal pain, and in some cases, it can be debilitating.

If there is severe abdominal pain accompanied by vomiting, nausea, and fever, these are potential symptoms of a bowel obstruction, and medical care is needed immediately.


Persistent Diarrhea

Diarrhea has many causes, and most healthy adults have diarrhea a few times a year. Often, diarrhea resolves on its own, and the cause may go undiscovered. However, persistent diarrhea—diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days—can be the sign of a problem that might need treatment.

People with IBD often have episodes of what's called "explosive" diarrhea several times a day. This could be anywhere from 3 to even 10 or 20 watery bowel movements a day. If there is diarrhea that is not resolving on its own and is also accompanied by abdominal pain, blood in the stool, weight loss, fever, or other symptoms, see a physician as soon as possible.


Unintended Weight Loss

Our culture is saturated with ideas on how to lose weight, because many adults in the Western world are overweight. But losing weight without restricting calories or exercising could be a sign that something is going wrong in the body. One symptom of IBD is diarrhea (see above), which can lead to rapid weight loss. Often too, people with IBD have a lack of appetite, which can result in what's called "unintended weight loss" from simply not taking in enough calories during the day. Suddenly losing weight unexpectedly is a reason to talk to a doctor, especially if there is also ongoing diarrhea, vomiting, or a lack of appetite. Gaining weight while in remission from IBD might become a priority, but it should be done in a healthful way.

Symptoms Of IBD

Many of the symptoms of IBD, by themselves, might not raise any red flags. That's why it's important to be aware of what new digestive symptoms may mean. Any blood in the stool should always be checked out by a doctor right away. Significant abdominal pain could mean many things, and should also be checked out by a physician as soon as possible. If there is a concern about any symptoms, see a doctor immediately, or seek care in a prompt care center or an emergency department.

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