Inflammatory Bowel Diseases 

Ulcerative Colitis

iStock_000046874040_XXXLarge.jpgUlcerative colitis is a chronic, or long-lasting, condition that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, on the lining of the colon. This disease usually begins gradually and worsens over time, but patients may have periods of remission when their symptoms resolve for weeks or even years. The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, but scientists believe the environment, genes and the body’s immune system contribute to the disease. The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are diarrhea with blood or pus and abdominal discomfort or pain.

Diagnosis

Ulcerative colitis is diagnosed based on a person’s medical and family history, physical exam, blood tests, and by visualizing the colon using colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy.

Treatment Options

People with ulcerative colitis can be treated with medications, such as steroids, or with surgery. The treatment recommended by the healthcare provider depends on the person’s symptoms and the severity of their disease.

Crohn's Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic, or long-lasting, condition that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract. It typically affects the small intestine and the first part of the colon, but any part of the GI tract can be involved, from the mouth to the anus. This disease usually begins gradually and worsens over time, but patients may have periods of remission when their symptoms resolve for weeks or years. The cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, but scientists believe the environment, genes, and the body’s immune system contribute to the disease. The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are diarrhea, abdominal cramping or pain, and unintended weight loss.

Diagnosis

Crohn’s disease is diagnosed based on a person’s medical and family history, physical exam, blood tests, barium swallow – a test that uses dye to outline the GI tract on X-ray – CT scan and endoscopy.

Treatment Options

People with Crohn’s disease can be treated with medications, such as steroids, bowel rest or with surgery. The treatment recommended by the healthcare provider depends on the person’s symptoms and the severity of the disease. Because each person experiences Crohn’s disease differently, the healthcare provider must adjust his or her treatment plan to improve the patient’s specific symptoms and bring about remission if possible.