Difference between Crohns and UC

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Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 29
   Posted 3/2/2010 7:07 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello all. A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and did all my research on that and not UC. I changed doctors, had another colonoscopy and have now been diagnosed with UC, not Crohn's Disease. I've read a little bit on the internet so far, but wanted to touch base with people on this forum, say hi, and get some additional information if you have any.

One question I have is will UC be with me for the rest of my life or can it be cured through me continually taking my medicine? Another question, and I do not intend to offend, but I considered the diagnosis change a downgrade in diseases. Is this correct, is UC a less severe condition than Crohn's? As in are the long term affects to your intestine less damaging in general? Is someone with UC less likely to need surgeries? Less likely to form fistulas, scarring, blockages? I read, though not significant (relative I suppose), Crohn's Disease lowers life expectancy, is this the same for Ulcerative Colitis?

Dx with UC Nov 07'
Taking 4x 400mg Asacol

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Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 985
   Posted 3/2/2010 7:10 AM (GMT -7)   
You won't be "cured" of UC through medication. The only real "cure" is surgery, which is the biggest difference between UC and Crohn's, I think. With Crohn's if you have surgery, it could still move to the small intestine which doesn't happen with UC. Because of this alone, I would consider it a "downgrade" in diseases
26 year old female
Diagnosed with unspecified UC 11/08
Asacol, Prednisone, 3 infusions of Remicade with no success
8/09 colonoscopy shows that the whole colon is affected
12/18/09 First part of J-Pouch surgery; recessed stoma
12/30/09 Second part of J-Pouch surgery too soon; fistula
1/9/10 Second Ileostomy Surgery with sparing of the J-Pouch
1/25/10 Stoma Revision Surgery and Fistula Repair
Now just trying to hold out as long as possible until we can try the next surgery
Imodium (4/day), Questran (3/day)

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Date Joined Apr 2004
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   Posted 3/2/2010 7:25 AM (GMT -7)   
I too consider Uc to be the lesser of the two mainly because we CAN be "cured" by removing our large intestines. However the symptoms, at least to me, can vary in the aspect that one can have a mild case of CD and someone can have a severe case of Uc and the one person with severe Uc can have more difficulties. Very rarely does someone with Uc have any complications that result in continued surgeries to deal with blockages and with Uc, we don't get fistulas but rather fissures. If someone has severe Uc for a long time it can result in scarring but rather than do resections of the colon, the whole colon is removed. But no, Uc can not be cured thru medication.

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Date Joined Jul 2006
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   Posted 3/2/2010 7:25 AM (GMT -7)   
I have a question did you actually ever get your entire GI tract visualized? Because if you just did colonscopies and a regular EGD then they missed about 18 feet of intestine. And unfortunately with crohns disease can attack and hide out in the small intestine (that is where my damage is the most severe). I really like the pill camera because it is much easier to deal with then having a full scope, but a full scope is really what my GI likes.
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Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 29
   Posted 3/2/2010 7:43 AM (GMT -7)   
Well, I'm not really sure how much of the GI tract they looked at. I assumed it was a regular one and I was told my doctor had already listed it as UC on the forms before I went in for the colonoscopy, so maybe he limited his range. But I did not do the pill camera. The scope doesn't bother me at all cuz they give me GOOD medicine to knock me out :)
Thanks for all the responses.
Dx with UC Nov 07'
Taking 4x 400mg Asacol

Elite Member

Date Joined Feb 2004
Total Posts : 20577
   Posted 3/2/2010 12:34 PM (GMT -7)   
luglug, when your new GI said your DX was ulcerative colitis, did he specficially say ulcerative or just colitis? The reason I ask is because with CD, it can affect your colon (as it can affect any part of the GI tract from mouth to anus) but when it's affecting your colon docs will often just throw the word "colitis" out there, even though they should be specifying it's crohn's colitis. As a result, many patients get confused and then think their DX has changed from CD to UC when infact it hasn't but usually due to doctors wording incorporates misunderstanding to the patient.

It happend to me early on, I knew I had crohn's (have the perianal crohn's skin tags to prove it) but it's been constant in my colon, when I changed GI's (one of the 3 times that I did that) this one GI imparticular told me after he scoped me that I still showed signs of "colitis" and I told him, that no, I don't have colitis, I have crohn's and then he explained to me that yes it's still crohn's but because it's affecting my colon it's referred to as crohn's colitis, so of course I said to him, well you only said colitis, you didn't specify crohn's colitis, and then I told him he should be careful with his wording because he could be confusing alot of patients by not being specific. I had already had CD for almost 10 yrs when this happend and that was the first time I had heard the term crohn's colitis and then learned shortly afterwards that there are 5 subtypes of CD (which you can google) that give specific names and explanations to the 5 main different areas CD basically affects different parts of the GI tract.

CD can also affect more than one area at a time, for instance, when I first got sick it was on my anus with perianal crohn's skin tags (which is where my CD actually started, it most commonly starts in the small intestines) as well as my rectom (proctitis), colon (crohn's colitis) and my TI.

Best thing to do is communicate as much as possible with your doc and if you're ever unsure, keep asking for clarification until you completely understand what your doc is telling you.

It's very rare, but aprox 2% of IBD patients do have both UC and CD.

The major distinction between telling the difference between UC and CD is the pattern of inflammation is distinctive between the 2, with CD there is a skipped pattern of inflammation (healthy tissue in between inflamed....patches) but with UC the entire area will be inflamed with no skipped pattern/patches of inflammation...find out from your doc what the pattern of inflammation was that he saw.

BTW, crohn's doesn't necessarily shorten life expectancy either...many,if not most patients live a long life with either CD or UC, its not considered a terminal disease either because it's not necessarily life threatening, just life altering and even very severe patients often live a very long life with having crohn's (or UC).

Best thing for you to do is clarify with your doc about what your pattern of inflammation was at your last scope...good luck.

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 925
   Posted 3/2/2010 7:16 PM (GMT -7)   
Wow, and I can sympathize....I am looking at being "upgraded" from UC to CD.  Going for the ultrasound this week and the pill cam by the end of the month.  They can keep their upgrade!  I hadn't even started reading on the CD too much.  Thanks for your post, it spurred questions for me and I got some new info I hadn't seen yet.
Diagnosed (FINALLY) UC Sept 09
Taking Lialda 2X/day
Entocort 3X/day
Bentyl as needed
1000 mg Vitamin C
Prilosec 1X/day
Most recent visit now has Crohn's suggested as a possibility?

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