Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis


Crohn’s disease refers to persistent inflammations of the intestines that mainly lead to the breakdown of the inner lining (Sartor, 2006). The disease is caused by various factors that could be environmental, immune, and/or bacterial. Its clinical signs are fever, fatigue, occasional rectal bleeding, diarrhea, and abdominal pain (Sartor, 2006). In addition, skin, eyes, joints, livers, and weight are also affected. It blocks the intestines due to scarring and swelling, and ulcers, which may lead to the development of fistulas (Sartor, 2006). On the other hand, ulcerative colitis is associated with infections in the large intestines and only affects the top layer unevenly (Sartor, 2006). Its clinical signs include loose stool, anemia, fatigue, and abdominal pain.

Similarities between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affect the digestive system by causing swelling, wounds, and bleeding. As a result, patients experience abdominal pains and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms, such as weight loss, undernourishment, and loss of appetite are common in both diseases (Bibiloni et al., 2006). As evident in the introduction, they can also result in common clinical signs, such as fatigue, fever, mouth ulcers, and skin lashes. Both diseases have long-lasting conditions that have negative impacts on individuals’ lives (Bibiloni et al., 2006). One of the long-term conditions is the typified by attacks that are preceded by remissions, making patients unable to work due to debilitating symptoms. Thus, most of the characteristics are common in both diseases. In addition, these diseases are attributed to similar causes despite the fact that they are unknown. Treatment and management are similar, although there are minor differences.

Distinctions between the two diseases

Notably, Crohn’s disease can infect any part of the digestive system, but ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine only. Crohn’s disease “affects multiple layers of the inner lining of the GIT by penetrating deep into tissues, while ulcerative colitis affects a particular layer of the lining” (Kappelman et al., 2007, p. 1425). Moreover, with respect to ulcerative colitis, inflammations occur continuously and affect the large intestines, while in Crohn’s disease, swelling occurs in bits in the entire GI tract (Kappelman et al., 2007. Despite the fact that Crohn’s disease is manageable by use of medications, it is not curable. However, “ulcerative colitis is cured by removing the colon, and can be controlled by medications” (Sartor, 2006, p. 397). It is important to note that in Crohn’s, there are non-peri-intestinal crypt granulomas that are absent in ulcerative colitis (Kappelman et al., 2007). With regard to complications, nutrient deficiency in Crohn’s disease exposes patients to higher risk, but in ulcerative colitis, it has insignificant impacts. Crohn’s disease can result in many mechanical problems, such as obstructions, eruptions, perforations, and blood loss (Kappelman et al., 2007). Notably, Crohn’s disease requires surgery, especially if it in its advanced stages. Therefore, it is correct to say that Crohn’s disease is more severe than ulcerative colitis.

Aspects of patient education related to the parts of the gastrointestinal tract and difference in treatment

First, nutrition education is key in the management of the two diseases. This is for the reason that both of them are typified by diarrhea that makes medical practitioners recommend better nutritional requirements. Patients should focus on a diet that reduces bowel movements and increases appetite, but they should avoid sugary food. Education related to medications should be availed to patients. The third aspect of education is psychological. It is critical to point out that both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are disabling diseases whose causes are unknown. Stress and patients’ beliefs have been mentioned as causes, but there is no scientific evidence. Secretions of the gastrointestinal tract and changes in immunity are caused by stress (Kappelman et al., 2007). The duty of patients in the management of psychological distress, adjustment to the diseases, and coping strategies can only be taught through psychological education. Illness behavior and the importance of incorporating psychological elements can only be realized through detailed studies (Kappelman et al., 2007). In both diseases, it is evident that patients have impaired psychological functions. Education that is related to social life is important. This is for the reason that patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis need both moral and social support, especially when they are stressed (Kappelman et al., 2007). The manner in which patients would be addressed in society would determine how they would be free to interact with others.

Difference in the treatment of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis diseases

Crohn’s disease requires surgery, which is not the case in ulcerative colitis.

The disease with the most complications

Evidently, Crohn’s disease has more complications compared with ulcerative colitis. For example, nutrient deficiency presents more risks to patients suffering from Crohn’s disease than those suffering from ulcerative colitis. Blocking of the intestines is common in Crohn’s disease compared with ulcerative colitis (Bibiloni et al., 2007)


In conclusion, the two diseases are inflammatory health conditions, which are closely related in terms of causes, symptoms, and management. Education is vital to patients presenting with two diseases because it assists them to manage and control the conditions.


Bibiloni, R., Mangold, M., Madsen, K. L., Fedorak, R. N., & Tannock, G. W. (2006). The bacteriology of biopsies differs between newly diagnosed, untreated, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients. Journal of medical microbiology, 55(8), 1141-1149.

Kappelman, M. D., Rifas–Shiman, S. L., Kleinman, K., Ollendorf, D., Bousvaros, A., Grand, R. J., & Finkelstein, J. A. (2007). The prevalence and geographic distribution ofCrohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in the United States. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 5(12), 1424-1429.

Sartor, R. B. (2006). Mechanisms of disease: pathogenesis of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Nature clinical practice Gastroenterology & hepatology, 3(7), 390-407.

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