Crohn’s Disease And Colitis

What’s the difference between inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome?

Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, includes diseases that cause damage to the colon in addition to causing other symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may share some of the same symptoms, but it doesn’t cause damage to the colon, and overall symptoms are not as severe. IBD primarily includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

What is ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a type of IBD that causes chronic inflammation and ulcers (sores) in the lining of the large intestine and rectum.

What is Crohn’s disease?

Unlike Ulcerative colitis that affects the large intestine and rectum, Crohn’s disease can occur anywhere in the colon or small intestine, causing inflammation that can spread deep into the tissues.

What symptoms does IBD cause?

Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease share many of the same symptoms, including:

  • bloody stools
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • severe abdominal cramping
  • unintentional weight loss
  • reduced appetite

Some people with Crohn’s disease can also experience narrowing and eventual obstruction of the bowel as a result of inflammation and scarring within the tissue of the bowel wall.

How is IBD treated?

IBD cannot be cured, but there are treatments to help manage symptoms. Most treatments are aimed first at addressing inflammation to help reduce the potential for tissue damage. Inflammation is usually treated with anti-inflammatory medications like corticosteroids or with medications designed to suppress the immune system, preventing the release of chemicals associated with an increase in inflammation. When fever is present, antibiotics may also be given to treat or prevent infection. Depending on the symptoms, additional medications may be used to control diarrhea or improve nutrition, since inflammation of the bowel can interfere with absorption of important vitamins and minerals. In some cases, surgery may be required to remove damaged portions of the bowel.

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