Crohn's Disease vs. Ulcerative Colitis

Crohn's Disease Irritable Bowel Disease Ostomy Ulcerative Colitis

A group of asian young adults under 30 years

Are you under the age of 30?

Are you experiencing any of these symptoms regularly? [1, 2]

If you said yes to any of these, read on.

Mock up of digestive tract

It’s Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Month and you would definitely want to find out more about these diseases.

Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two main types of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Both Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are conditions where the digestive tract is chronically inflamed.

Although they share many similarities, there are key differences between the two diseases.  [3]

How are Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis similar?

  • Both diseases often develop in teenagers and young adults although the disease can occur at any age.
  • Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis affect men and women equally.
  • The symptoms of Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are very similar.
  • The causes of both Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are not known.
  • Both diseases have similar types of contributing factors such as environmental, genetic and an inappropriate response by the body's immune system.

Differences between Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

The differences between Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are: 

  • Ulcerative Colitis is limited to the colon while Crohn's Disease can occur anywhere between the mouth and the anus.
  • In Crohn's Disease, there are healthy parts of the intestine mixed in between inflamed areas. Ulcerative Colitis, on the other hand, is continuous inflammation of the colon.
  • Ulcerative Colitis only affects the innermost lining of the colon while Crohn's Disease can occur in all the layers of the bowel walls


  • Colorectal cancer. People living with Crohn’s Disease have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. A 2020 study found that people with Crohn’s Disease have an increased risk for dying from colorectal cancer than people without Crohn’s Disease who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. [4]
  • Colon cancer. Long-term inflammation from Ulcerative Colitis can lead to colon cancer. “The lifelong chance is about 5%. It’s lower than it used to be because we’re better at detection and treatment. We don’t really know why Ulcerative Colitis causes colon cancer, but the thought is that when the cells keep repairing themselves, there can be errors in the DNA replication,” Regueiro says. A key to catching colon cancer is early detection. “If you’ve had Ulcerative Colitis for at least eight years, patients are usually put on a more intense screening protocol and colonoscopy may be suggested every one to two years,” El-Nachef says. [5]
  • Toxic megacolon. When the colon is severely damaged and inflamed, it can stop working, blow up like a balloon and “pop” or perforate. If left untreated, it can also lead to sepsis. “If you have a perforation in the gastrointestinal tract, that’s a life-threatening emergency. Bacteria will be going to parts of the body that are supposed to be sterile,” El-Nachef says. “The treatment for this would be emergency surgery and would include the removal of the colon." [5]


Treatments may include [6]

  • medication to reduce the chances of flare-ups
  • steroid (cortisone) medication
  • medication to reduce the activity of the immune system
  • corrective surgery for complications

Ostomy Surgery

Sometimes people with Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis need surgery. One type of surgery is the creation of a colostomy or an ileostomy, to bring a part of the intestine to the abdomen wall. The procedure creates an opening at the abdomen, called a stoma, so waste can drain into a bag instead of through the anus. This life-saving procedure can help the patient to live a whole, healthy life.
Stoma and ostomy bag


At SM Health Care Sdn Bhd, you will be able to find a range of stoma care products to suit your needs post-ostomy.

We're currently giving away free stoma kits!

Our free trial pack contains: 

  • 1-piece ostomy bag system 
  • 2-piece ostomy bag system 
  • Ostomy clips 
  • Cleansing cream


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