Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Inflammatory bowel disease (or IBD for short) refers to two inflammatory disorders of the bowel, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s disease, occurs as a patch or patches of inflammation in any part of the gastrointestinal tract (from the mouth to the anus) but most commonly in the small and large bowel (colon).

In ulcerative colitis, inflammation occurs in the large bowel only. It may affect the entire large bowel, which is known as pancolitis. It may affect the left portion of the large bowel leading down to the rectum, referred to as distal ulcerative colitis (left-sided colitis and/or proctosigmoiditis). If only the rectum is affected, it is called ulcerative proctitis.

Inflammatory bowel disease is said to be a “chronic” condition, which means it is ongoing. People with IBD generally experience periods where inflammation and symptoms are present, known as ‘active’ disease and periods when inflammation and symptoms are minor or absent when the disease is said to be in ‘remission’. 

People are affected differently by IBD, depending on where in the bowel the inflammation is located and how severe it is. Common symptoms for IBD include abdominal cramps and pain, frequent diarrhoea (which may contain mucous and/or blood), urgency to have a bowel movement, loss of appetite, weight loss and tiredness.

These symptoms on their own are not specific to IBD. More information needs to be gathered to determine whether it is IBD, or whether there is something else causing such symptoms. If people have these symptoms and are concerned about what is causing them it is important they see a doctor as soon as possible.



Crohn's disease occurs most commonly in the small and large bowel (colon).


Inflamation of the entire colon.

Distal Ulcerative Colitis

Inflammation of the left portion of
the large bowel leading down to
the rectum.

Ulcerative Proctitis

Inflamation of the rectum only.

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