What on earth is it?
Crohn’s Disease can affect anywhere from the mouth to the anus but most commonly affects the small intestine and/or colon. It causes inflammation, deep ulcers and scarring to the wall of the intestine and often occurs in patches. The main symptoms are pain in the abdomen, urgent diarrhoea, general tiredness and in many cases loss of weight.
Ulcerative Colitis affects the rectum and sometimes the colon (large intestine). Inflammation and many tiny ulcers develop on the inside lining of the colon resulting in urgent and bloody diarrhoea, pain and continual tiredness. The condition varies as to how much of the colon is affected. If the inflammation is only in the rectum it is known as proctitis.
For more information, look here
How did the doctor decide what I have?
A doctor may have looked inside the colon using a special telescope (sigmoidoscope or colonoscope). A special X-ray of the large intestine (barium enema) or small intestine (barium meal) may be advised. Barium coats the lining of the gut and shows up as white on X-ray films. Typical patterns on the films show which parts of the gut are affected. More sophisticated tests may be needed if the diagnosis is in doubt, or if complications are suspected. Also, blood tests are helpful from time to time to check for anaemia and other deficiencies.
If you had a colonoscopy your doctor will have looked at where the problems are and taken a biopsy. From this small piece of tissue, and where he took it from, he will have been probably have been able to ascertain whether you have CD or UC.
Ulcerative colitis affects only the mucosal membrane, or inner lining, of the intestinal wall and is limited to the colon.
Crohn’s disease affects the full thickness of the intestinal wall and can occur anywhere in the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus.
Diagnosis of one or the other can be a tricky business and it’s not unknown for one doctor to say one thing and another doctor to say another!
Crohn’s Colitis is like a combination of the two. It means you have CD that affects the large intestine (more commonly only affected by UC).
Why did I get it?
There have been many theories about what causes IBD but none have been so far proven. The most popular is that the body’s immune system reacts to a virus or a bacterium by causing ongoing inflammation in the intestine. People with Crohn’s disease tend to have abnormalities of the immune system, but doctors do not know whether these abnormalities are a cause or result of the disease.
Is it hereditary?
IBD is not strictly genetic. To date, scientists have found no specific gene in which a defect or mutation causes it. The chances of a child having Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis if his or her parents do is only slightly greater than the chances of any other child having inflammatory bowel disease.
Will I get better?
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic illness where there is currently no cure. Some people with Crohn’s suffer from one initial flare up, never to be bothered again, whereas others suffer continuously with little or no remission. There are no two cases alike. There are many different treatments and medications which can be tried and which can enable a patient to achieve that much needed remission. Surgery will not cure Crohn’s. More on this below.
However with Ulcerative Colitis, if the colon is removed, the patient can be classed as ‘cured’ as there will be no recurrence. As with CD there are a number of treatments available which will usually be tried before such drastic action is taken.
Will I die?
In a word, NO!
Years ago, people did die as the illnesses were not greatly understood and suitable drugs were not yet available to treat them.
Nowadays, huge progress has been made in the awareness of IBD and how to treat it.
For more health news and Ulcerative colitis. Click here.