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What is Crohn's & Colitis (Ulcerative Colitis)?
Crohn's and Colitis are the most common inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). They both cause inflammation within the digestive tract. The main symptoms of IBD:
- Abdominal pain
- Aching joints
- Bleeding from the bowels
- Fever / feverish sweats
- Loss of appetite
The main difference between Crohn's and Colitis is that they affect different parts of the digestive tract. Colitis affects the large intestine whereas Crohn's disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. In many cases it is hard to differentiate between the two main types of IBD. If this is the case, it’s known as indeterminate colitis.
IBD is also categorized as an autoimmune condition, which means the immune system is working against itself. It causes abnormally low activity or over activity of the immune system. When the immune system is overactive, the body attacks and damages its own tissues (autoimmune diseases). Immune deficiency diseases decrease the body's ability to fight invaders, which increase the chances of infections.
When unknown triggers occur, the immune system can start to produce antibodies, which means instead of fighting infections it attacks the body's own tissues. Treating autoimmune diseases is mainly done by focusing on lowering immune system activity. That is why steroids are a common form of medication in IBD flare ups as they suppress the body's own immune system and also acts as an anti inflammatory.