Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

The following information will help answer some of your questions about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It will also provide information about medications used to treat these conditions.

What is Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis?

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic (long lasting) inflammatory diseases that cause inflammation irritation and swelling in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from your mouth to your anus (the one-inch long opening through which stool leaves the body).

Crohn’s disease commonly affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine, but it can affect any part of the GI tract. Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, stomach cramps and pain.

Ulcerative colitis affects the lining of the large intestine and creates ulcers (tiny open sores) that produce pus and mucus. The most common symptom of ulcerative colitis is diarrhea with blood or pus and stomach discomfort.

What causes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis?

The exact causes of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are not known, but certain factors may be involved:

  • Autoimmune reaction — When your immune system attacks the healthy cells lining the intestines by mistake. This causes the inflammation, which leads to the symptoms.
  • Genetics — Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis disease sometimes runs in families.
  • Environmental — Some studies show that certain medications and a high-fat diet can slightly increase the chance of getting Crohn’s disease. Something in the environment can cause an immune response and cause inflammation.

How are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis treated?

There's no cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, but medications that reduce inflammation are important for treating your symptoms. Treatment includes medications that are taken by mouth or given as a shot.

Your medications may include:

  • Aminosalicylates — Reduce inflammation
  • Corticosteroids — Reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system
  • Immunosuppressants — Suppress or slow down the immune system
  • Antibiotics — Prevent or treat infections
  • Biologic response modifiers (biologics) — Block specific chemicals involved in inflammation

In some cases, surgery may be needed.

For more information about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, call your BriovaRx pharmacist or one of the resources listed below: