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The little-known symptom of Crohn’s disease

You may think the symptoms of Crohn’s disease were fairly obvious.

However, a gastroenterologist has now revealed there is a little known sign that many people may be unaware of.

Swollen lips could highlight the agonising bowel condition, says Dr Rishi Goel, a consultant at Kingston Hospital, London.

The chronic condition behind swollen lips, known as orofacial granulomatosis (OFG), is an inflammatory disorder that often presents on its own.

NHS Choices, the website designed to give the British public information, doesn’t list the condition as a sign of Crohn’s disease.

You may think the symptoms of Crohn’s disease were fairly obvious. But a gastroenterologist has now revealed there is a little known sign that many people may be unaware of

Dr Goel, a member of the British Society of Gastroenterology, told MailOnline: ‘OFG is a chronic inflammatory condition which can flare up intermittently.

‘Interestingly, it can overlap with Crohn’s disease, which is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gut and carries a 75 per cent lifetime risk for surgery.’

Dr Goel has delved into the evidence behind Crohn’s disease and OFG over the past decade to examine if there is a link.

For decades researchers have suggested an association between the two, however many experts have disputed the claims. This is believed to be why the NHS doesn’t list it as a symptom.


  • Recurring diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain and cramping, which is usually worse after eating
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Blood and mucus in your faeces 
  • A high temperature of 38ºC (100ºF)
  • Feeling sick
  • Being sick
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Inflammation and irritation of the eyes
  • Areas of painful, red and swollen skin – most often the legs
  • Mouth ulcers


Research carried out by Dr Goel and colleagues has shown interesting clinical patterns between them both.

Crohn’s disease, a major form of inflammatory bowel disease, still remains at the  forefront of scientific investigations in recent years. 

The incurable digestive condition that blights the lives of 115,000 people in Britain and as many as 1.6 million in the US.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea and potentially dangerous weight loss. Magician Dynamo is a famous sufferer.

Evidence shows Crohn’s disease, which can cause symptoms including diarrhoea, stomach cramps and weight loss, can drive some to suicide.

And eight out of ten patients will eventually need part of their intestine removed because it becomes so damaged it prevents digestion.

The medical community is baffled as to what the precise cause of the condition is – and believe it could be down to a combination of factors.

However, various trials in the past few years have offered hope of a potential cure for Crohn’s disease – but none have worked.

Conventional treatment is with drugs that suppress the immune system’s production of a protein called TNF, which causes inflammation.  


Some patients consider their diet to have played a major role, with researchers keen to warn them that fatty foods can worsen symptoms.

While bacteria in the intestines have also faced close scrutiny due to substantial evidence that links them to Crohn’s disease.

Fingers have already been pointed at yersinia and listeria – commonly found in beef, pork, chicken, cheese and lettuce.

And British researchers previously warned a bug, known as (MAP) mycobacterium avium patratuberculosis, may be to blame.

Professor John Hermon-Taylor of St George’s Hospital, London, made the claim about the bug – which is found in animals and passed into the food chain.

Breakthrough research published last September in mBio also suggested that a fungus, candida tropicalis, could be held responsible.

Microbiologists at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, found it fuses with two bacteria to trigger symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

Smoking cigarettes has also been touted as a possible cause, with South Korean researchers proving this long-held theory in October.

Kyung Hee University, Seoul, researchers found for the first time that exposure to chemicals in tobacco may increase the risk of Crohn’s disease.