Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of columns about the similarities and the differences among IBD, Crohn’s disease, colitis, IBS, and celiac disease. Read part one here.Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis (UC), and the other autoimmune diseases of the gastrointestinal tract can be confusing and hard to recognize. These diseases can be so different, and yet alike, that the distinctions among 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. While Crohn's and UC are members of the autoimmune disease category, as is IBD, and have similarities and several differences, both are believed to be caused by factors including genetics, environment, and an immune system gone renegade. Neither has a cure. Both involve chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and digestive system and can manifest in many symptoms, inside the body and out.
Crohn's and colitis can cause patients to suffer from rectal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, tenesmus, pain, weight loss, fatigue, fever, and other symptoms. Both can be managed with immunosuppressant medications, steroids, biologics, and even surgery. Similarities can lead to thinking they are the same; they are