Similarities and differences
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are the two main forms of inflammatory bowel diseases. They are both conditions characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Although they share many similarities, there are key differences between the two diseases.
How are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease similar?
- Both diseases often develop in teenagers and young adults although the disease can occur at any age
- Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease affect men and women equally
- The symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are very similar
The causes of both UC and Crohn's disease are not known and both diseases have similar types of contributing factors such as environmental, genetic and an inappropriate response by the body's immune system
Differences between ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
The differences between ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are:
- Ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon while Crohn's disease can occur anywhere between the mouth and the anus
- In Crohn's disease, there are healthy parts of the intestine mixed in between inflamed areas. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, is continuous inflammation of the colon
- Ulcerative colitis only affects the inner most lining of the colon while Crohn's disease can occur in all the layers of the bowel walls
Approximately 10% of cases of inflammatory bowel diseases exhibit the features of both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. These are typically known as indeterminate colitis.