Information about Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

What are Crohn’s and Colitis?

Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, are the two main disease categories that belong to a group of illnesses called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease are inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Although it can involve any area of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus, it most commonly affects the small intestine and/or colon.

The symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis, although similar, are restricted to the large intestine (colon).

Because these two inflammatory bowel diseases’ symptoms are so similar, it is sometimes difficult to establish the diagnosis definitively, and approximately 10 percent of colitis cases are called indeterminate colitis.

Both illnesses do have one strong feature in common. They are marked by an abnormal response by the body’s immune system. In people with IBD the immune system acts inappropriately and attacks the intestinal lining causing chronic inflammation. Symptoms relapse & remit over time & patients may be hospitalised with a severe flare.

How common are Crohn’s & Colitis?

It is estimated that between 180,000 and 250,000 Britons have IBD, with that number evenly split between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Males and females appear to be affected equally. They may occur in people of all ages, but mainly adolescents and young adults, usually between the ages of 15 and 35. Ten percent of those affected are youngsters under the age of eighteen.

Who Gets Crohn’s & Colitis?

We know that genes definitely play a role in the IBD picture. Twenty to twenty-five percent of patients may have a close relative with either Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. If a person has a relative with the disease, his or her risk is greater than that of the general population.

Any treatments/cures?

Research has led to progress in the fields of immunology, microbiology and genetics.

Many scientists now believe that the cause of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis is the interaction of an outside agent – such as a virus or bacterium – with the immune system of genetically susceptible patients, triggering the disease in these individuals.

Through research efforts such as those funded by Cure Crohns and Colitis much more is being learned about the causes of these Irritable Bowel Diseases, meaning treatment and symptom management options continue to improve.

Sadly there is currently no cure for Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, but though fundraising such as that conducted by our charity, medical researchers are making massive progress toward this goal.

To be a part of this progress, contact us or make a donation. Together we can Cure Crohns and Colitis.