What is the difference between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis?

What is the difference between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis?

What is the difference between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis?

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

These two conditions are two different kinds of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). They have very similar characteristics and as such, are often confused with one another. However, they are separate diseases and affect different areas of one’s digestive tract.

The following are some characteristics that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have in common:

  • The initial symptoms and signs of both of the conditions seem to be extremely similar. These include:
    • Abdominal pain
    • Diarrhoea
    • Rectal bleeding
    • Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Cramping
  • Both of the conditions tend to occur in people who are between the ages of 15 and 35 years old and have a family member has suffered from one of the diseases (i.e. a family history of the disease).
  • The conditions both affect women and men equally.
  • Despite years of research, researchers are still unsure as to what causes either of the diseases. In both diseases, it appears that an overactive immune system is a contributing cause, however, there are a number of other factors that have key roles to play.

The differences between the two conditions are as follows:

Crohn’s disease

  • The inflammation may form anywhere in the gastrointestinal (digestive) tract, ranging from the mouth to the rectum.
  • Tends to affect the final section of the small intestine (known as the ileum).
  • Can form in patches
  • May extend throughout the entire depth of the bowel wall
  • Roughly 67% of people who have the condition and are in remission will suffer from at least one relapse in the following five years.

Ulcerative colitis (UC)

  • Limited to only the rectum and colon (large intestine)
  • Tends to appear in a pattern that is continuous
  • The inflammation will occur in the innermost intestinal lining
  • Roughly 30% of those who have been diagnosed with the condition and are in remission suffer from a relapse within the following year

What is the difference between IBD and IBS?

It is vital that you do not confuse IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). IBS is not a chronic disease, whereas IBD is. IBS affects the bowel via muscle contractions whereas IBD affects the bowel through intestinal inflammation. IBS does not result in ulcers or damage to the bowel, it is a far less severe condition and is also known as spastic bowel or spastic colon. IBD on the other hand results in chronic swelling of the digestive tract. Both the conditions, can, however, result in rectal bleeding, fatigue, constipation or the need to urgently have a bowel movement.

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