Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are both chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, also known as IBD. Both conditions cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and are similar in certain aspects but are entirely different diseases, nonetheless. So what is the difference between Colitis and Crohn’s.
Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease Similarities
Both colitis and Crohn’s are more common among teens and young adults, but people of all ages can develop inflammatory bowel diseases. Men and women have the same likelihood of developing inflammatory bowel diseases.
Researchers have not been able to pin down what causes inflammatory bowel diseases like colitis and Crohn’s but believe that both genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of both.
Colitis and Crohn’s can also cause similar symptoms, including stomach pain and cramps, constipation, diarrhea, frequent bowel movements, weight loss, loss of appetite, bleeding in the rectum, and fatigue. Of course, not all of these symptoms appear all at once, and inflammatory bowel diseases affect every individual differently.
Colitis vs. Crohn’s
One of the main differences between colitis and Crohn’s is how far reaching they are. Crohn’s can affect anywhere from the large intestine to the mouth, whereas colitis causes the inflammation of the colon. Colitis causes chronic inflammation in the colon, but Crohn’s may not necessarily affect the entire intestinal tract but can develop in all layers. On the other hand, colitis is only limited to the inner lining of the large intestine.
Colitis and Crohn’s Diagnosis
The two inflammatory bowel diseases are similar in nature but different in the way they affect the digestive tract, so doctors usually need to use tests to allow them to examine what is going on inside. Some tests used to reach a diagnosis are CT scans, x-rays, MRIs, and Endoscopy.
Treating Colitis and Crohn’s
Since they belong to the same family of diseases and have similar symptoms, some treatments of Colitis and Crohn’s are also the same.
Medications like 5-ASAs reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and especially improve the symptoms of colitis. Steroids are also used short-term to suppress the immune system to reduce inflammation.
Some other drugs target the immune system for more severe cases of inflammatory bowel diseases such as adalimumab, cyclosporine, golimumab, infliximab, natalizumab, and vedolizumab.
Ulcerative colitis is easier to treat and manage than Crohn’s as most people with colitis can prevent flare-ups and symptoms almost completely with treatment and lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes are vital in improving both colitis and Crohn’s. You should quit smoking and avoid taking over-the-counter pain medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil and Ibuprofen.
Avoiding stress is also important in preventing flare-ups. Regular physical activity and a healthy diet devoid of triggers are essential. Some triggers may be food intolerances like lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance.
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