Updated: Mar 16
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) is an overarching term for two pathologies: Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both of these conditions are characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. The two diseases do share several similarities making them hard to differentiate. There are, however, some key differences between the two that can help aid in diagnosis and more effective treatment.
Ulcerative colitis is ONLY found in the colon whereas Crohn’s disease can be found anywhere from mouth to anus.
Ulcerative colitis is a continuous inflammation of the colon while Crohn’s disease often consists of healthy patches throughout the intestines mixed with inflamed areas.
Ulcerative colitis affects ONLY the inner lining of the colon whereas Crohn’s disease often embeds itself deeper into multiple layers of the intestinal walls.
The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include bloody diarrhea, frequent bowel movements, abdominal cramps, and a bleeding rectum. The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include diarrhea (which may or may not be bloody), unintended weight loss, abdominal cramps, sores within the mouth, and loss of appetite.
Patients with ulcerative colitis are more prone to iron deficiency and skin manifestations, whereas patients with Crohn’s disease are more prone to fistulas and B9/B12 deficiencies.
The exact causes of IBD is unknown but it is thought to be a result of an overactive immune system, family history, and an imbalanced gut biome. Medications, surgery, and dietary changes may aid the symptoms of IBD. IBD can be diagnosed by a stool sample analysis, bloodwork, X-ray, CT scan, or an endoscopy.
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Until next time,
Haley Haberman B.S. HSMT
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis - Better Health Channel. (n.d.). Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/crohns-disease-and-ulcerative-colitis
Yale Medicine. (2021, May 21). Inflammatory bowel disease. Yale Medicine. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/inflammatory-bowel-disease
Disclaimer: This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts.