Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a relatively new diagnosis, having been seldom seen before the 20th century. The frequency of this digestion disease grew as urbanization increased, and has continually been found in developed countries, namely the United States. IBD has been mainly caused by a lack of resistance to germs, similar to other autoimmune disorders.
Two of the most common forms of IBD are Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions may occur when the immune system mistakes food, bacteria or other items in the gastrointestinal tract for foreign substances, sending white blood cells into the lining of the bowels. This attack causes chronic inflammation, and while someone with IBD symptoms can live a normal life, they may also experience periods of flare-ups. Persons with IBD can take medications like Lialda, the brand name of the drug mesalamine, to fight IBD symptoms. Lialda works as an anti-inflammatory medication that treats the substances that cause IBD.
Crohn’s vs UC
While Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis share similar symptoms and are commonly confused for one another, there are several distinct differences between the two maladies, most notably how these two types of IBD respond to treatment. Let’s take a look at each one.
Crohn’s Disease is found at the end of the small intestine and at the beginning of the colon, though it can impact any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth all the way to the anus. Some common symptoms of Crohn’s include: cramping and abdominal pain, fever, rectal bleeding, fatigue, and persistent diarrhea.
Crohn’s differs from ulcerative colitis in that its effect is not limited to the gastrointestinal tract, but can also affect the eyes, liver, joints and skin. If someone is diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, they are at an increased risk of colon cancer. This risk factor requires them to have regular colonoscopies. Once again, Crohn’s disease can be treated with Lialda, along with other steroids, immune modifiers, or biologic therapy, although in some cases surgery may be required.
One of the biggest differences between UC and Crohn’s is that while Crohn’s can spread to almost the entire body, UC is limited to the colon. Someone might have UC if they are experiencing bloody or loose stools, loss of appetite, and in some cases, anemia. Patients who have UC as opposed to Crohn’s do not have to have surgery, and complications are less common, but more severe. Children who have UC do not develop properly.
There are five different types of UC
· Proctitis, affects the rectum only
· Proctosigmoiditis, which affects the lower rectum and colon
· Distal Colitis, which affects the descending colon
· Extensive Colitis, which affects the majority of the colon
· Pancolitis, which affects the whole colon and where a patient has persistent diarrhea
There is no cure for any form of IBD, but diagnosing the symptoms early, and recognizing what type of IBD is in your body is key to helping to minimize the consequences of the disease and treating the disease effectively.