In the UK, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is said to impact one in 250 people. It is also becoming more prevalent over time. There are two main long-term conditions included in IBD, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Coeliac disease is another condition that deals with inflammation of the intestines.
As 11 – 17 May marks Coeliac Disease Awareness Week, it’s important to understand the differences between the conditions. Here, we will look at some of the key differences between Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and coeliac disease.
What is Crohn’s disease?
With Crohn’s disease, it isn’t limited to a particular part of the intestines. Instead, inflammation can develop anywhere within the gastrointestinal tract. However, most patients do find it mostly affects the lower part of the small intestine. It can also lead to healthy parts of the intestine being sandwiched between two diseased parts. Each patient suffers with the condition differently, and the symptoms can vary in severity.
The inflammation caused by the condition can lead to ulcers developing on the intestine lining. In severe cases, the ulcers can cause tunnels to develop through the wall of the intestine. This connects two organs together and they are referred to as fistulas.
Scarring can also occur on the intestinal wall, potentially causing a blockage. This can lead to problems such as pain and constipation.
What is ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is similar to Crohn’s disease, but it only impacts the large intestine or colon lining. The condition tends to cause a number of ulcers to form within the wall of the intestine.
Most patients find it affects the bottom area of the large intestine, close to the anus. Symptoms typically include persistent diarrhoea, cramping, frequent and urgent bowel movements, and rectal bleeding.
Other symptoms that can accompany ulcerative colitis, include unexpected weight loss, skin rashes, and a loss of appetite. If you experience these symptoms they need to be investigated as they could point to more serious underlying issues.
What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease occurs due to gluten and it causes the immune system to start attacking its own tissues. The gut becomes damaged, preventing you from fully absorbing nutrients.
The condition causes a lot of unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, diarrhoea, stomach pain, and constipation. You might also experience general symptoms like fatigue, an itchy rash, and unexpected weight loss.
As the condition is caused by a reaction to gluten, switching to a gluten free diet is required. There is no cure for the condition, but symptoms are usually managed through diet alone.
If you are experiencing symptoms of IBD, it is important to know which condition you have. With Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, surgery may be required to resolve the problem. If left untreated, the conditions could worsen, causing more severe complications.
Contact Alan Woodward for a consultation by calling 03000 204 734, and he will talk through your treatment options with you.