Editor’s note: This is the first installment in a series of columns about the similarities and the differences among IBD, Crohn’s, colitis, IBS and celiac disease.
Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis (UC) and the other autoimmune diseases of the gastrointestinal tract can be very confusing and hard to recognize. These diseases can be so different, and yet alike, that the distinctions between them can be hard to understand. Knowing what these differences are, and which disease you or your friends suffer from, can help with understanding IBD. These many differences and similarities are the focus of this series.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is considered an autoimmune disease. It's manageable, but not curable. Bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis often are just assumed to be the same thing. And, while they are both members of the autoimmune disease category as IBD, and have many similarities but several differences, both are believed to be caused by things like genetics, environmental factors and an immune system gone renegade. Neither has a cure.
Both diseases cause inflammation and symptoms within the patient’s digestive system, causing flares with times of remission, but only Crohn’s plays hopscotch throughout the bowels, with both inflamed portions and relatively healthy bowel walls.
Under the umbrella of IBD, Crohn’s disease can affect the patien