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All about Crohn's and Colitis

Updated: Mar 20, 2018

The affected digestive tract is unable to absorb water and nutrients.

What are Crohn's and Colitis?

Both Chron’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are huge categories of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). They affect around 1.6 million Americans of all walks of life.

Crohn’s is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and can affect any are between the mouth and the anus. In Crohn’s, a patient will experience flare ups with symptoms that are followed by periods of remission that are asymptomatic. Crohn’s can lead to anal fissures that cause pain and bleeding. These fissures may develop into a fistula, which is a tunnel that leads from one loop of intestine to another, or that connects the intestine to the bladder, vagina, or skin. A fistula is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.

Colitis is also a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the GI tract, but in this illness, the issues are limited to the colon. Colitis causes the lining of the colon to develop tiny open sores that produce pus and mucous. This inflammation and ulceration can cause discomfort in the abdomen accompanied by frequent bowel movements. This reaction is due to an atypical immune system response in which the body mistakes harmless substances as foreign or invading; as a result, it will attack and contain them with white blood cells.

It is important not to confuse Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBD is characterized by intestinal inflammation and IBS is a disorder that affects the muscle contractions of the colon

Who is Affected?

Crohn’s affects as many as 780,000 Americans. It affects both men and women, usually between the ages of 15 and 35. The causes are not fully understood, but research suggests that genetics and environmental factors play a role in addition to diet and stress. Crohn’s disease is less common in rural areas, undeveloped countries, and southern climates.

Ulcerative Colitis affects as many as 907,000 Americans. It affects both men and women, usually in their mid-30’s. It is not known yet what causes this disease, but it is believed to involve several complex factors. More recent research has helped scientists discover the possibility of an interaction between a viral or bacterial infection of the colon and the body’s natural immune system response. Research also shows that ulcerative colitis tends to run in families.

Shared Symptoms

GI Tract Inflammation Symptoms


-Rectal Bleeding

-Urgent need to move bowels

-Abdominal Cramps/Pain

-Feeling Incomplete Evacuation


General IBD Symptoms


-Loss of appetite

-Weight Loss


-Night sweats

-Abnormal menstrual cycle

In both illnesses, the immune system reacts abnormally and can lead to exaggerated forms of common ailments.

How can I help?

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation needs your help to continue to impact 600,000 patients annually through their 40 chapters. Their mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases.

-Click HERE to donate to their Wisconsin Chapter.

-Click HERE to learn more about the National Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

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