Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

An Introduction to Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

An Introduction to Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Article excerpt

According to Steven Bensen, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, New Hampshire, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (often called colitis or UC for short) are on the rise across the board in the United States. These diseases are common among both men and women and have a strong genetic inheritance: nearly 20 percent of individuals diagnosed with Crohn's or colitis have a family member with the disease. There are approximately 1.5 million people with IBD in the United States alone, including 140,000 children, and that number has been steadily growing.

What are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis? These diseases are part of a category of illnesses known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Inflammatory bowel disease is the general name for diseases that cause swelling in the intestines. IBD stems from a confusion in the immune system of the body's intestine. When this confusion occurs, the intestinal lining attacks normally harmless bacteria and inflammation follows (hence the name "inflammatory bowel disease"). …

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