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5.4: Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to a number of inflammatory conditions in the intestine. The two most common are Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis. These two conditions differ mainly in the areas of the intestine that are affected. Crohn's disease can occur anywhere throughout the GI tract, but most commonly occurs in the last part of the ileum. Crohn's disease may also involve all layers of the intestine1. Ulcerative colitis are ulcers, or sores, in the lining of the colon and/or rectum2. It is estimated that up to 1 million people have IBD in the United States. Half of these individuals have Crohn's disease, and the other half have ulcerative colitis3.

    The following table in the first link below summarizes the differences between the Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Figure 4 in the second link below illustrates the differences between these two conditions.

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    Differences between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

    Ulcerative Colitis vs. Crohn’s Disease

    The exact causes of these two diseases are not known. One hypothesized cause for Crohn's disease is an overactive immune system that results in the chronic inflammation and collateral damage to the cells of the intestine, resulting in the formation of lesions. The following video does a nice job of illustrating this cause.

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    Video: Pathology of Crohn’s disease

    Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis present symptoms similar to other gastrointestinal diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome and GERD.


    Differences between Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis -

    Ulcerative Colitis -


    Pathology of Chron’s disease -

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