What is Crohn’s Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Information on this page adapted from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCFA)

So what is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

It is a general term for conditions that cause chronic inflammation and disease in your gastrointestinal tract with the 2 most common being Crohn’s Disease (CD) and Ulcerative Colitis (UC). Both conditions are considered autoimmune diseases where your immune system attacks healthy tissue mistaking it for invaders.

Though both CD and UC are inflammatory bowel diseases and share some similar symptoms, they affect different areas of the GI tract:

  • Crohn’s Disease:
      • can affect any part of the GI tract from mouth to anus.
      • can affect the entire thickness of the bowel walls.
      • can skip throughout the intestine leaving spaces between areas of inflammation and normal areas.
      • types of Crohn’s Disease include:
          • Ileocolitis – affects the terminal ileum (end of the small intestine) and the colon. The most common form of CD.
          • Ileitis – affects only the ileum.
          • Gastroduodenal – affects the stomach and duodenum (beginning of the small intestine)
          • Jejunoileitis – affects the upper half of the small intestine (jejunum).
          • Crohn’s Colitis – affects only the colon
  • Ulcerative Colitis
      • only the large intestine (or colon) is affected.
      • only the inner most lining (mucosal layer) of the intestine is affected.
      • unlike Crohn’s, disease will not skip throughout the colon.
      • types of Ulcerative Colitis include:
          • Ulcerative Proctitus – affects only the rectum.
          • Left-Sided Colitis – affects the rectum and as far up into the colon as the bend near your spleen.
          • Extensive Colitis (Pancolitis) – affects the entire colon.

***It is important to be knowledgable about which type of disease you have in order to properly treat your condition, understand your symptoms, and ensure you are taking the proper steps to heal your body.

Who is affected by IBD?

  • According to CCFA, there are approximately 1.6 million Americans living with IBD.
  • About 70,000 new cases of IBD are occurring each year.
  • Diagnosis can occur at any age, but mostly commonly occurs between 15 and 35.
  • Each gender is affected equally.
  • If you have a first degree relative with IBD, your likelihood of diagnosis is higher.
  • Can be caused by both genetic and environmental (diet, smoking, antibiotic use, etc) triggers or risk factors.

This is a very brief overview pulled from CCFA and there is much more in depth information about both of these conditions, including resources, questions for your doctor, treatment options and more on the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s website!