• 4 May 2022

What’s the difference between Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is the umbrella term for a group a conditions in which the intestines become inflamed. Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two main types of IBD, and are often spoken about together, but are two separate diseases (in a majority of cases).

How are Crohn’s and Colitis similar?

Crohn’s and Colitis are both caused by inflammation of the intestines, and therefore have similar symptoms such as diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, reduced appetite, weight loss, and fatigue.

Both diseases have similar medications available to treat them.

How are Crohn’s and Colitis different?

The main differences between Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis:

  1. Crohn’s Disease can appear anywhere in the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus, although it is most commonly found in the colon and last part of the small intestine (ileum). In Crohn’s there may be healthy stretches of intestine between inflamed areas. The inflammation in Ulcerative colitis is located within the colon only. The amount of affected colon varies from person to person.
  2. Ulcerative Colitis only affects the inner most lining of the colon, whereas the inflammation in Crohn’s can spread through all the layers of the bowel wall.

Does it matter which form of IBD I have?

Knowing which form of IBD you have, from Crohn’s to Colitis to some of the less common forms, is important as it could affect your treatment. It’s important to take note of all of your symptoms, and relay these to your doctor. They will also use tests, such as blood or stool tests, and possibly medical imaging, to determine which form of IBD you suffer from.

What are some of the other forms of IBD?

Some of the less common forms of IBD include:

  • microscopic colitis,
    • collagenous colitis,
    • lymphocytic colitis, and
  • diverticulosis-associated colitis,
  • Behçet’s disease

While IBD is a chronic, lifelong, condition, seeking treatment can help give you the best outcome possible.


Contributed by Dr Paul Spizzo