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Inflammatory Bowel Disease: What Are the Different Types?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease: What Are the Different Types?

Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD refers to a condition that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. IBD causes symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss, and even bloody stools. If left untreated, IBD can lead to worsening symptoms and even serious complications.

What are the Types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

There are two types of inflammatory bowel disease; namely, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. These types of inflammatory bowel disease mainly differ in how they cause inflammation, as well as which parts of the gastrointestinal or GI tract they affect.

Here is a breakdown of the two types:

Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is a condition that affects any part of the GI tract. This means that it can cause inflammation anywhere from the mouth, up to the anus. Another trait of Crohn’s disease is that it can affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall and cause inflammation.

In addition, Crohn’s disease can also “skip” certain areas of the intestine. This means that doctors might see patches of inflammation in between normal patches of the intestinal wall.

There are also different types of Crohn’s disease that have different symptoms, depending on where they are located:

  • Ileocolitis – This is the most common form of Crohn’s disease, and affects the end of the small intestine, as well as the large intestine or colon.
  • Ileitis – This form of Crohn’s disease affects the ileum, or the end of the small intestine.
  • Gastroduodenal Crohn’s Disease – This form mainly affects the stomach, and the duodenum or beginning of the small intestine.
  • Jejunoileitis – This causes inflammation in the jejunum, or the upper part of the small intestine.
  • Granulomatous colitis – This form specifically affects only the large intestine.

Here are some possible symptoms of Crohn’s disease:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • In some rare and more severe cases, skin lesions can appear

The main cause of Crohn’s disease is not yet fully understood. However, scientists believe that it might have something to do with a person’s autoimmune response, which causes the immune system to attack healthy cells in the gut.

Another possibility is that it’s a genetic condition, which means that your odds of having Crohn’s disease increases if you have a close relative with this condition.

Difference Between Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis can have symptoms that are similar to Crohn’s disease, mainly because they are both forms of inflammatory bowel disease.

However, their main difference is that ulcerative colitis only affects the colon or large intestine, and only the inner lining of the colon. Ulcerative colitis also doesn’t “skip” like Crohn’s disease.

What are the symptoms?

Here are some of the common symptoms of ulcerative colitis:

  • Bloody stools
  • Nausea
  • Anemia
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Fatigue

If you experience any of the symptoms above, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about it. Getting diagnosed early on can help you better manage ulcerative colitis.

What causes it?

Similar to Crohn’s disease, doctors don’t yet fully understand what causes ulcerative colitis. However, possible cause is that it get triggers when your immune system responds to a bacterial or viral infection in your colon.

What happens that instead of stopping the immune response once the infection has been dealt with, the immune system continues. This causes it to attack healthy cells, which leads to inflammation of the gut.

IBD Diagnosis: Symptoms, Causes, and Complications

What can you do about it?

There’s no treatment available for inflammatory bowel disease. This means that patients who have this condition will need to take steps to manage their symptoms for the rest of their lives.

This usually includes being careful of the food that you eat, as well as taking medication that helps suppress the symptoms of IBD. This ensures that a person with IBD encounters fewer flare ups, and so long as they manage their condition well, it should not become a bigger problem or lead to more serious complications.

If you are diagnosed with IBD, ask your doctor about what options are available. They can best be able to give you recommendations to best manage your conditoin based on your health and your lifestyle.

Learn more about Inflammatory Bowel Disease here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Overview of Crohn’s Disease | Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-crohns-disease/overview, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Overview of Ulcerative Colitis | Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/overview, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

CDC -What is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)? – Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Division of Population Health, https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/what-is-IBD.htm, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Adults | NYU Langone Health, https://nyulangone.org/conditions/inflammatory-bowel-disease-in-adults/types, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, https://inflammatoryboweldisease.net/types-of-ibd/, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

What is IBD? – UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases – Los Angeles, CA, https://www.uclahealth.org/gastro/ibd/about-ibd, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

Inflammatory Bowel Disease | Arthritis Foundation, https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/inflammatory-bowel-disease, Accessed December 22, 2020, Accessed Dec 23, 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated May 25
Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D.