What is the Difference Between Crohn's and Colitis?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2018
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Although difficult to distinguish, there are factors that differentiate Crohn's and colitis, including the localization of pain. Crohn's disease symptoms often produce soreness, cramps, or spasms in the lower right part of the abdomen, and ulcerative colitis may cause intense discomfort generalized to the lower left region of the intestines. Ulcerative colitis typically causes intestinal bleeding, which can be found in the stool, and this is generally rare in Crohn's disease patients. Ulcerative colitis symptoms are generally more intermittent, as the patient's symptoms may subside with treatment.

Crohn's and colitis are both digestive diseases that tend to have similar symptoms in many patients. Although both of these conditions cause inflammation of the intestinal tract, Crohn's tend to involve a broader extent or area than colitis. Colitis patients report inflammation is constant or ongoing. Crohn's disease tends to produce inflammation that occurs sporadically. Crohn's may also produce several small areas of inflammation, while colitis typically affects a widespread region.

The differences in Crohn's and colitis also vary with the form of treatment that is prescribed or recommended. When patients suffering from an especially aggressive form of colitis can find little relief from medications, so surgery may be the only other alternative. This is rarely the case in Crohn's disease. Crohn's patients often find that certain foods aggravate their condition, and modification of diet may improve symptoms, although the disease will not be cured.


Another distinctive difference of Crohn's and colitis is that Crohn's can affect any passage of the gastrointestinal lining, including esophagus, stomach, or anus. With colitis, generally only the colon will have become damaged or inflamed. One layer, typically inside the intestinal lining, will most likely be affected with colitis. In Crohn's disease sufferers, typically any or all layers of the intestines will be affected.

Crohn's and colitis have other differences as well. Fissures are common along the anal openings in a person with Crohn's disease. These types of tears or crevices are uncommon with ulcerative colitis, although they may occasionally be present. Both conditions are generally classified as a type of inflammatory bowel disease.

Crohn's disease has other characteristics that set it apart from ulcerative colitis. Patients with Crohn's have been known to report other symptoms apart from gastrointestinal issues. Some patients experience conditions of the skin, including outbreaks of irritations and hives. Some patients also report eye infections or blurry vision, as well, although these are generally not common symptoms. Crohn's disease may be inherited, as it may be associated to a genetic flaw.



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