If you experience symptoms of abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, weight loss and rectal bleeding, you may have inflammatory bowel disease. It affects approximately 1.3% of the U.S. population, including Georgia. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the term inflammatory bowel disease refers to two separate conditions: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Though they have some qualities in common, there are also some significant differences between the two.
Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease involve damaged tissue from inflammation in the digestive tract. With ulcerative colitis, the damage from the inflammation is continuous within a section of the large intestine. Damaged areas resulting from Crohn’s disease may be patchy, meaning that there are areas of healthy tissue where inflammation has not occurred.
Ulcerative colitis does not extend beyond the rectum and the colon, which is another name for the large intestine. By contrast, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, including the mouth, the stomach and the esophagus. However, it occurs most commonly in the colon and small intestine.
The walls of the GI tract contain multiple layers of tissue. Ulcerative colitis affects only the innermost layer of tissue in the walls of the large intestine. However, the inflammation that results from Crohn’s disease can extend through multiple layers of tissue.
You may confuse IBD with irritable bowel syndrome, which can produce similar symptoms. However, IBS does not cause damage to tissues, does not result from inflammation and is not a type of inflammatory bowel disease.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.