What's The Difference Between Crohn's Disease And Ulcerative Colitis?

While Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are both inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and cause a similar kind of abdominal inflammation, they have a few differences that require unique treatments, according to WebMD. These diseases are quite common in the U.S. In fact, every year there are more than 30,000 newly diagnosed cases of Crohn's disease (via Healthline). Similarly, Medscape shares that ulcerative colitis affects around 1 million of the country's population, and is three times more prevalent than Crohn's disease.

Crohn's disease is a digestive condition that affects various parts of the system, particularly the bowel (per Mayo Clinic). It is accompanied by diarrhea, stomach pains, lethargy, mouth sores, and fever. On the other hand, the National Health Service (NHS) explains that ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic bowel disease that raises blood flow to the colon and the rectum, and causes pus-filled sores in the lining of the colon. As a result, you might experience diarrhea, abdominal pain, reduced appetite, weight loss, and an increased need to visit the loo. You may occasionally also have rectal bleeding and night sweats (via WebMD).

Each disease targets a different area

Despite their many similarities in the symptoms, the first thing that sets them apart is the region each disease targets, explains Better Health Channel. While Crohn's disease can affect any part of the bowel including the small or large intestine or anywhere between the mouth and anus, ulcerative colitis only specifically causes inflammation in the colon and rectum, which are both located in the large intestine. Another important difference is the zones of inflammation (per UCLA Health). In Crohn's disease, there are regions where the gut is in a healthy condition and has no inflammation. On the contrary, UC causes continuous inflammation throughout the affected region with no disease-free zones.

There are differences in their treatments as well. According to Healthline, doctors usually recommend steroids or antibiotics for both depending on the circumstances. However, while surgery is a given in order to cure UC, you may not strictly need a surgical procedure to treat Crohn's disease