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Providing knowledge and information about your condition.

Your Condition Overview

  • Condition Introduction
  • Symptoms
  • Understanding Your Medications

Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis

About This Condition

It can be overwhelming to receive a medical diagnosis, particularly one like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, but learning more about your diagnosis, and ways to cope with it, can make it more manageable.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (collectively called inflammatory bowel disease [IBD]), are chronic, autoimmune conditions that directly affect the digestive system. Autoimmune conditions happen when your immune system mistakenly attacks some of your own cells, causing damage. This can happen in any part of the body, but in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, your immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, causing inflammation, swelling, and painful ulcers. This results in stomach or abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.

 
 

The major differences between the two conditions are their location within the digestive system, their symptoms, and their impact on how the body uses food. See table for more details.

  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis
General Overview:
  • Can involve the entire GI tract (from mouth to anus)
  • Inflammation can extend throughout the entire thickness of the bowel
  • Abdominal pain is common
How Nutrition Is Affected:
  • Food is not fully broken down so nutrients cannot be absorbed, resulting in abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, and malnutrition
General Overview:
  • Only involves the large intestine (colon and rectum)
  • Inflammation is only in the innermost lining of the intestine
  • Abdominal pain is less common
How Nutrition Is Affected:
  • Water and electrolytes are not well absorbed resulting in diarrhea, urgency to use the bathroom, and having bowel movements more often

Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis

Symptoms

Symptoms, or flare-ups, are usually why a person seeks medical advice that can lead to the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Symptoms are different for each condition and vary per person. They can range from mild to severe, and come and go with periods of flare-ups or remission.

To better understand your symptoms, it’s important to discuss with your care provider what area of your digestive system has Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. See table for more details.

To better manage your symptoms and keep track of your diet, download our Food & Symptom tracker:Food & Symptom Tracker
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis
Most Common Symptoms:
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgency to use the restroom
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain or tenderness, often on the right side
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
Severe Symptoms:
  • Inflammation of the eyes, skin, or joints
  • Delayed growth in children
  • Inflammation of the liver
Most Common Symptoms:
  • Diarrhea, often becomes bloody (main symptom)
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Fever
  • Urgency to use the restroom
  • Weight loss
  • Can be associated with weight loss, anemia (low iron levels), skin lesions (sores), and delayed growth in children
Severe Symptoms:
  • Inflammation of the eyes, skin, or joints
  • Delayed growth in children
  • Inflammation of the liver

Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis

Understanding Your Medications

Getting a diagnosis can be overwhelming, especially if you need complicated care. Along with good nutrition, taking your prescribed medication as directed is an important part of a successful treatment plan. The Meijer Specialty Pharmacy care team is here for you every step of the way. Our pharmacists are available 24/7 to answer questions and to help you get the most out of your medication.

Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic, autoimmune conditions. Autoimmune conditions happen when your immune system mistakenly attacks some of your own cells, causing damage. This can happen in any part of the body, but with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, your immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, causing inflammation, swelling, and painful ulcers. This results in stomach or abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea. All of the medications used to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis work by either targeting the cells that are wrongly attacking your GI tract or decreasing the inflammation that happens after the attack.

Biologics

Biologic medications work by blocking specific immune system cells so they can’t attack your GI tract. When these immune cells are blocked, there is less inflammation and you experience less symptoms.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

These medications work by blocking the chemicals in the body that are released when the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body. These chemicals lead to the inflammation and swelling that cause damage to the GI tract in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

To learn more about your medication, click below:Understanding Your Medications

Meijer is here for you.

At Meijer Specialty Pharmacy, our pharmacists are at the center of a complete team of specialists dedicated to your well-being. So whether you need help with side effects, managing costs, injection training, understanding how and when to take your medications; we'll do whatever it takes to help you, your family, and every family, live as well as possible.