Both Crohn’s disease
and ulcerative colitis affect the digestive tract and
involve over-activity of the immune system and white
blood cells behaving in a way which causes an
inflammation of the bowel.
White blood cells are usually responsible for fighting
infection and removing diseased tissue. In IBD white
blood cells can cause healthy tissue to become inflamed
and it is this inflamed tissue that becomes frail, prone
to bleeding and where ulcers can form. Inflamed tissue
cannot work as well as normal tissue and so sufferers
report pain and diarrhoea. While both diseases cause
ulcers, ulcerative colitis affects the colon (large
intestine) exclusively while Crohn’s disease can affect
any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the
A further distinction between ulcerative colitis and
Crohn’s disease is observable in the onset of the
Crohn’s sufferers can exhibit symptoms for many years
before being diagnosed (see chart below), but as the
disease is progressive these can get worse as time goes
on. The ulceration in Crohn’s disease is scar-tissue
forming, which can prevent the gut digesting food
properly. The result of this is that gut contents can
become porridge-like. The scars in Crohn’s disease can
sometimes cause a blockage which has to be removed
surgically in an operation.
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis can vary widely
between people and tend to appear periodically
throughout a sufferer’s life. Typical symptoms that
sufferers will exhibit are diarrhoea with blood, pus and
mucus. An occurrence of ulcerative colitis symptoms is
known as a ‘flare-up’. Flare-ups of ulcerative colitis
can be brought on through stress, diet or can happen
without any obvious trigger. Depending on the sufferer,
a flare up of UC can result in anything from urgent need
of the toilet to being bed-bound.
Distinguishing between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
bloodied with mucus
(tunnels in the digestive tract)
What resources can I find on Atlantichc.com?
The IBD sufferers
section of our website provides fact sheets for
sufferers of ulcerative colitis, proctitis, Crohn’s
disease and pouchitis. Here you will find descriptions
of symptoms, how they affect sufferers, and the variety
of treatments that are currently available.
Please note that the information on this website is not
intended for use as a diagnostic guideline. If you
exhibit any of these, or other symptoms we urge you to
consult your doctor.
The information is provided by Atlantic Healthcare Ltd.
and while we endeavour to keep the information up to
date and correct, we make no representations or
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