Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease and can greatly impact someone’s quality of life. These inflame the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and disrupt the body’s ability to digest food, absorb nutrition, and eliminate waste in a healthy manner. They are lifelong diseases, but people can experience periods of active symptoms (flare ups) or other times when their symptoms are absent.
Inflammation from Crohn’s can strike anywhere in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from mouth to anus, but is usually located in the lower part of the small bowel and the upper colon. Patches of inflammation are often found between between healthy portions of the gut, and can penetrate through intestinal layers from inner to outer (see red patches in photo). Crohn’s disease can be controlled with medication and reduce the chance of a disease relapse. In severe cases, surgery of the small or large intestine may be required to manage the disease.
Crohn’s occurs more in females than males and affects all ages, although it’s most commonly diagnosed between 15-35 years of age. There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease.
Symptoms: Diarrhea, fever, sores in the mouth and around the anus, abdominal pain and cramps, anemia (low iron), fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss
Typically, UC affects the colon (large intestine) including the rectum and anus, and only inflames the inner lining of bowel tissue. Colitis can be controlled with medication and in severe cases can even be treated through the surgical removal of the entire large intestine.
Colitis equally affects both genders and is also found in all ages. It’s most commonly diagnosed between 15-45 years of age. The only known cure is surgery for the removal of the colon (colectomy).
Symptoms: Bloody diarrhea, mild fever, abdominal pain and cramps, anemia, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss
A term used when it is unclear if the inflammation is due to Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.