Crohn’s and Colitis are both debilitating gastrointestinal conditions, which can greatly affect your quality of life. They’re what is known as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), which cause pain and swelling of the digestive tract. In fact, Crohn’s and Colitis make up the vast majority of IBD cases.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that leads to ulcers in various parts of the intestine, along with inflammation. While it usually only affects the lower small intestine, it can occur anywhere along the digestive tract, including the mouth.
Colitis, on the other hand, only affects the large intestine and rectum. Like Crohn’s, Colitis results in ulcers, which can be painful when irritated. However, Colitis can seemingly disappear for years at a time. Another key difference is that while Colitis only affects the lining of the colon, Crohn’s can sometimes develop deep into the layers of the bowel wall.
IBD, such as Crohn’s and Colitis, are most likely related to genetics and the immune system. Researchers believe that in patients with IBD, the immune system and digestive tract mistakenly identify food as a foreign invader, and floods the system with white blood cells to try and fight the intruder. This influx of white blood cells is what causes different symptoms of IBD.
While researchers know how they develop, they have yet to fully uncover why. Some evidence suggests this critical mistake in the immune system can be traced to a virus or bacteria. Some evidence even shows it could be exacerbated by simple allergies. Other risk factors, such as sex, vary between the conditions, with men being more susceptible to ulcerative Colitis, while Crohn’s is more common in women.
An estimated 3.1 million Americans deal with an IBD condition according to a 2015 survey by the CDC. This represented an over 50% increase in patients since 1999 when only 2 million adults dealt with Crohn’s or Colitis. As such, experts are working harder than ever to uncover safe and effective treatments for these debilitating IBD conditions.
If you are worried that you, or someone in your life, maybe dealing with Crohn’s or Colitis, the best thing you can do is speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Only a doctor can provide a legitimate diagnosis, as well as provide the most accurate and pertinent information for your case.