CROHN’S DISEASE and ulcerative colitis are
often grouped together because both are primary forms of inflammatory bowel disease.
They share some symptoms—persistent diarrhea, severe abdominal pain and rectal
bleeding—but have distinct differences and
are treated differently.
An increased risk of colon cancer exists
for patients with each of these diseases,
according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. The earlier these diseases
are diagnosed, the easier they are to treat.
Crohn’s disease involves chronic inflammation in potentially any part of the gastrointestinal tract, but most frequently affects the
end of the small bowel and the beginning of
the large bowel. The disease can occur in
patches between sections of healthy bowel,
and can involve all layers of the intestines.
Common complications include intestinal
blockage and the development of ulcers
(open sores) and fistulas (abnormal connections between tissues or organs caused by
Ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon
(the large bowel). The inflammation affects
the lining of the colon, causing ulcers to
develop. The affected area is continuous and
evenly distributed instead of the patches
seen with Crohn’s. Complications are less
frequent than with Crohn’s, but can involve
bleeding, rupture of the bowel and severe
Treatment for Crohn’s and colitis
includes the use of medications, alteration of
diet and sometimes surgery. All patients are
different, so treatment is situational.
Inflammatory bowel diseases should
not be confused with irritable bowel syndrome, a disorder that affects the muscle
contractions of the colon and does not
involve intestinal inflammation.
For more information or to learn how
you can help spread awareness, visit these
; Centers for Disease Control and
; Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of
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