Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options
The Tree of Life
Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are two chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) that can cause a wide range of symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and weight loss. Both conditions are lifelong, but they can be managed with a combination of medication, surgery, and lifestyle changes.
Crohn's disease: Crohn's disease is an IBD that can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. The inflammation in Crohn's disease can be patchy and can extend through all layers of the bowel wall.
Ulcerative colitis: Ulcerative colitis is an IBD that only affects the large intestine (colon) and rectum. The inflammation in ulcerative colitis is continuous and only affects the inner lining of the bowel wall.
The exact cause of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with a family history of IBD are at an increased risk of developing the condition. Environmental factors that may contribute to IBD include smoking, diet, and infections.
The symptoms of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include:
Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can lead to a number of complications, including:
Fistulas: A fistula is an abnormal connection between two organs or between an organ and the skin. Fistulas can occur in people with Crohn's disease, and they can cause pain, infection, and bleeding.
Strictures: A stricture is a narrowing of the bowel that can make it difficult to pass stool. Strictures can occur in people with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and they can lead to blockages.
Cancer: People with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. It is for this reason that it is recommended that individuals with IBD undergo colonoscopy at more frequent intervals in order to decrease their risk of colon cancer.
There is no cure for Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, but there are a number of treatments that can help to manage the symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment for IBD typically involves a combination of medication, and lifestyle changes, with surgery typically reserved for treatment of complications from the disease.
Medication: There are a number of medications that can be used to treat Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. These medications include corticosteroids, immunomodulators, and biologics.
Lifestyle changes: There are a number of lifestyle changes that can help to manage the symptoms of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. These lifestyle changes include:
Eating a healthy diet
Getting regular exercise
Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to treat Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis in some cases. Surgery may be used to remove diseased tissue, to create a new opening for stool, or to repair a fistula.
Prognosis (or "Outlook")
The prognosis for patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis varies from person to person. Some people with IBD have mild symptoms that can be managed with medication. Others have more severe symptoms that may require surgery. With proper treatment, most people with IBD can live a normal, productive life.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, it is important to see a gastroenterologist right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to improve your chances of a good outcome. If you, or someone you know, would like to speak to a GI in Plano you can request a consultation with Dr. Akerman by submitting a request on our Contact Us page, or calling us at 972-867-0019.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this blog is intended for Informational Use only and is not intended to replace personal evaluation and treatment by a medical provider. The information provided on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Please consult your doctor for any information related to your personal care.