The two main inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.  Both diseases have similar symptoms but affect the digestive, or gastrointestinal (GI), tract differently. 

Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is a chronic disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Although it can involve any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus, it most commonly affects the small intestine. Symptoms of Crohn's disease include:

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • rectal bleeding
  • weight loss
  • arthritis
  • skin problems
  • fever
  • anemia

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disorder that causes inflammation in the lining of the rectum, bowel or large intestine. Common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:

  • abdominal pain
  • bloody diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • rectal bleeding
  • loss of body fluids and nutrients and anemia

Occasionally, children may also experience:

  • skin lesions
  • joint pain
  • inflammation of the eyes
  • liver disorders
  • osteoporosis
  • rashes
  • kidney stones


A gastroenterologist, a physician specializing in the digestive tract, will perform a physical examination and order diagnostic tests to confirm a diagnosis of IBD.  These tests may include a colonoscopy, blood work, stool sample, MRI imaging test or endoscopy.