Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis share some similarities, but they are different diseases.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are part of the group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Prior to the 20th century, before the rise of hygiene and urbanization, inflammatory bowel disease was quite rare. Currently, IBD is found in developed countries and is believed to be caused by a lack of germ resistance development – although the exact cause is still unknown.
For those living with IBDs, their immune system mistakes food and bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract for an allergen or foreign substance, so it sends out cells to destroy it. The result of these attacks is chronic inflammation.
Although the exact causes of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are unknown, genetics and environmental factors are believed to play a role. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are often interchanged for one another, but we will outline the differences between the two, including symptoms, causes, and treatments in order to provide you with a better understanding of either condition.
Connection between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
At first, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis will appear the same as they do share many symptoms. This can make diagnosis right off the bat quite difficult until further investigation and testing is underway. Shared symptoms seen across many IBDs include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgent need to release bowels, abdominal cramps and pain, sensation of incomplete emptying, constipation, fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, and loss of menstrual cycle. Recognizing any of these early symptoms can prompt you to speak to your doctor about a possible IBD.
The biggest connection between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis is that they both involve an abnormal response by the body’s immune system. The immune system’s role is to protect the body, but in inflammatory bowel disease this response in abnormal, thus attacking whatever enters the gastrointestinal tract whether it is good or bad. Over time, if treatment is not administered long-term damage can occur to the digestive system and the risk of serious complications arises.
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