Most Americans have heard of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In fact, you may know someone with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, but do you know the similarities and differences for two chronic conditions?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
To begin, although they share similar symptoms and are both types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), they are not the same illness, and they affect different areas of the GI tract. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus and can affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall. Ulcerative colitis only affects the colon and rectum (also known as the large intestine) and the innermost lining of the large intestine.
Inflammatory bowel diseases are autoimmune disorders, meaning the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues. It is unknown what triggers these attacks or the impact of genetic, environmental, infectious, immune, and other factors, including the balance of bacteria in the gut.
IBD can affect people of any ethnic or racial group, but statistically, people of Jewish ancestry have a greater risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease. Environmental factors may contribute, but interestingly IBD is rare in the southern hemisphere.
IBD does run in families, but it can also randomly develop even if there is no family history. According to studies, between 5% and 20% of those with inflammatory bowel disease have a first-degree relative, such as a parent, child, or sibling, with the condition. IBD can occur at any age and is most often diagnosed in adolescents and adults between the ages of 20 and 30.
To say that IBD symptoms can interfere with living an everyday life is an understatement. Common IBD symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea, sometimes with blood
- Urgency to have a bowel movement and fecal incontinence
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
- Malnutrition and delayed growth in people who develop IBD as children
- Anxiety and depression
More than the urgent need to “find a bathroom,” IBD can affect overall physical and mental health. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have no cures, meaning they are chronic conditions.
Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
As we know through the gut-brain connection, physiological symptoms contribute to psychological symptoms. In periods of active disease, psychological functioning degrades.
Crohn’s and colitis symptoms can interfere with work, school, relationships, travel, and physical and emotional well-being. This impact on a person’s quality of life can cause stress, anxiety, and depression. And unfortunately, stress and anxiety can increase symptoms and cause increased symptoms like abdominal pain or diarrhea. These flare-ups are not related to increased inflammation but the body’s decreased ability to fight inflammation during emotional distress.
Studies show that with active colitis, depression was usually diagnosed the year before IBD symptoms began, suggesting depression may be the result of living with an undiagnosed bowel condition. In Crohn’s disease, depression followed the diagnosis of IBD, suggesting depression may be a result of the symptoms and treatment of IBD.
REMICADE®: Symptom Relief
REMICADE® is a prescribed infusion medication used to treat IBD in both adults and children. It can reduce signs and symptoms and induce and maintain remission in adult patients with moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease who haven’t responded well to other therapies.
It can also help you maintain remission, promote intestinal healing, and reduce or stop the need for steroids in adult patients with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis who haven’t responded well to other therapies.
REMICADE® can also reduce signs and symptoms and induce and maintain remission in children (ages 6–17) with moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease who haven’t responded well to other therapies.
REMICADE® is given through infusion over about two hours. Therapy begins with three starter doses at weeks zero, two, and six. After starter doses, one maintenance dose is infused every eight weeks.
TwelveStone Infusion Center
Receiving a REMICADE infusion is time-consuming. At TwelveStone, we offer those receiving a REMICADE infusion the option of infusion therapy administered by a registered professional in the comfort of their home. For those who come to one of our infusion centers, we provide comfortable recliners, WIFI service, TVs, snacks, and drinks in a private suite for you and any guest you might bring.
December 1–7 has been observed across the United States as Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week, which provides an opportunity for the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) community to come together around a shared goal: To raise awareness and educate the public about IBD and to achieve a future free of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
There is hope and healing for this condition and many others. We’re here for you.