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Inflammatory Bowel

Crohn's disease involving the colon. There is deeper swelling and larger ulcers
Normal colon - no inflammation
Ulcerative colitis

What is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

This is a collective term for the two main conditions:

  • Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

    • This is different from irritable bowel (IBS) where no inflammation is present.
    • These conditions have no known cause. They are not caused by an infection, any particular type of diet or stress.
    • The diagnosis is made by the combination of tests - not by one particular test.
    • Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have many features in common BUT are probably best considered as separate diseases.
    • There has been an increasing incidence of Crohn’s disease in recent years. The incidence of ulcerative colitis has remained about the same in western countries.
  • In NZ 1:700 people have Crohn’s disease.
    • It is more common western countries (Northern Europe, North America and Australia and New Zealand).
    • It is now becoming more common throughout the world.
  • Smoking.
    • Increases the risk of Crohn’s disease.
    • Decreases the risk of getting ulcerative colitis.
  • There is clearly a major influence of genetics.
    • First-degree relatives have a 30-fold increased risk of developing Crohn’s disease. This means an 8% lifetime risk for first-degree relatives.
    • There is a genetic influence in ulcerative colitis but this is less prominent.
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