Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. The major types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
Inflammatory bowel diseases are considered autoimmune diseases, in which the body’s own immune system attacks elements of the digestive system.
Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic (long-term) diseases that involve inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (gut). However, there are important differences between the two.
Ulcerative colitis only affects the colon (large intestine), while Crohn’s disease can affect the entire digestive system, from the mouth to the anus.
The main symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are similar. They include:
-abdominal (tummy) pain – this is more common in Crohn’s disease than in ulcerative colitis
-a change in bowel habits: urgent and/or bloody diarrhoea or (rarely) constipation
Not everyone has all of these symptoms, and two individuals with the same condition can have very different symptoms. Some people may experience additional symptoms, including nausea and fever.
The symptoms of IBD can come and go over long periods. People may experience periods of severe symptoms (flare-ups), and go through periods when they have few or no symptoms at all (remission).
IBD is usually diagnosed in people in their late teens or early 20s, but it can appear at any age. It is more common in white people than in black people or those of Asian origin. The condition is most prevalent among Jewish people of European origin. IBD affects slightly more women than men.