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Ulcerative Colitis & Crohn’s disease

IBD actually refers to two main conditions: Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD). These two conditions are similar in many ways, including symptoms and management. The key difference between ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease is the location and extent of inflammation.

In Ulcerative Colitis the inner lining of the large intestine (colon) is inflamed causing raw, painful wounds known as ulcers. Inflammation in this area interferes with the intestine’s role and results in diarrhea which is often bloody.

Crohn’s Disease differs from Ulcerative Colitis in the intestinal areas affected and the severity of inflammation. In Crohn’s disease there may be inflammation in any part of the digestive system, from mouth to anus. Inflammation most commonly occurs in the last part of the small intestine (called the terminal ileum) and in the large intestine. In Crohn’s disease the inflammation penetrates all layers of the intestinal wall, not just the lining as in Ulcerative Colitis. This makes the intestines prone to infection (abscesses) and can lead to penetration of other bowels or organs (fistulas). There may also be scarring and narrowing of the intestine which can slow passage of stool, leading to constipation. In severe cases, the intestinal scarring can completely block food digestion (bowel obstruction). The symptoms of Crohn’s disease vary widely based on the areas that are affected, but commonly include diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Learn More about IBD

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