What Are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis?

What Are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis?
When it comes to explaining Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis symptoms to friends and family, it is easiest to describe the basics. So, what exactly are the conditions and what do patients with them go through? Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis fall under the category of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Inflammatory bowel disease is considered an autoimmune disease and a chronic inflammatory digestive condition. There is not an exact known cause for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and there is no cure. Crohn’s disease can affect patients from head to toe, from the eyes to your shins, your mouth to your rectum, and everything in between. Patients can have symptoms inside and outside the body, but the problems are primarily in the gastrointestinal tract and colon. About 700,000 people in the United States have Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s patients also can suffer diarrhea, abdominal and body pain, vomiting, weight loss, anemia, fatigue, headache, abscesses, obstructions, urgency and tenesmus, night sweats, loss of appetite, and many more complications. With ulcerative colitis, the colon is pointedly affected, causing bleeding ulcers, bowel-wall thickening, significant pain, and often the need for bowel resections and other procedures. To learn more about the differences in Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and celiac, read my column, "What’s the Difference in IBD and IBS? Part One of a Series." Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary from patient to patient, and the conditions often take extensive testing to diagnose. Testing can include M
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