Understanding Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), a group of chronic inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, most often affecting the colon. It affects both men and women and is one of the few disorders that primarily affect people aged 15-40. The disease can have long periods of inactivity where there are minimal symptoms. During these periods, the condition is often confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

The most common symptoms are diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, fevers. Occasionally parts of the body outside the bowel can be affected and cause symptoms such as joint or back pain, rashes, red eye, or liver abnormalities.

If there is suspicion of Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, a careful examination and review of lab tests with specialists is required. Often, examination of the bowel with colonoscopy, or capsule endoscopy is required to confirm the diagnosis.

Managing a Chronic GI Condition

When properly managed, people with IBD can lead full, active lives. Mild cases may not require any treatment at all. Symptomatic patients require daily medications. These conditions are associated with a higher risk for colorectal cancer and occasional examinations of the bowel (colonoscopy) may be advisable.

Physicians at Putnam Gastroenterology have years of experience caring for some of the most complicated cases of IBD at our advanced endoscopy center.