What’s the difference between Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis?

Crohn's Disease versus Ulcerative Colitis
Crohn's Disease versus Ulcerative Colitis

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in your digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. This is different than Crohn’s disease, which affects the small intestine. Symptoms usually develop over time, rather than suddenly.

What are the Symptoms?

Diarrhea, often with blood or pus

Abdominal pain and cramping

Rectal Pain

Rectal bleeding – passing small amounts of blood with stool

Urgency to defecate

Inability to defecate despite urgency

Weight Loss



In children, failure to grow

What are the causes?

The cause of ulcerative colitis is complex and involves many factors. One theory is that it’s the result of an overactive immune response, but here are some other factors that may contribute as well.


Genes: You may inherit a gene from a parent that increases your chance.

Other immune disorders: If you have one type of immune disorder, your chance for developing a second is higher.

Other Immune Disorders
Environmental Factors

Environmental factors: Bacteria, viruses, and antigens may trigger your immune system.

How do you get diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis?

Stool Test: A doctor examines your stool for certain inflammatory markers, blood, bacteria, and parasites.

Stool Test

Endoscopy: A doctor uses a flexible tube to examine your stomach, esophagus, and small intestine.


Colonoscopy: This diagnostic test involves insertion of a long, flexible tube into your rectum to examine the inside of your colon.


Biopsy: A surgeon removes a tissue sample from your colon for analysis.


CT Scan: This is a specialized X-ray of your abdomen and pelvis.

CT Scan

What’s the difference between Colitis and Ulcerative Colitis?

Colitis means your colon is inflamed, or irritated. This can be caused by many things, such as infections from viruses or bacteria. Ulcerative colitis is more severe because it is not caused by an infection and is lifelong.

Are there any myths about living with Ulcerative Colitis?


Not caused by food allergies
Digestive issues

1. UC is the same thing as Crohn’s. (UC affects the large intestine, while Crohn’s affects the small.)

2. UC is caused by emotional stress.

3. UC is caused by food allergies.

4. Most people with UC have severe symptoms.

5. UC only causes digestive issues.

6. UC can be cured with diet changes.