Table of Contents
The type of Crohn’s or colitis you have determines a lot about your symptoms and treatment plan.
The first step in becoming a strong advocate for your own health is knowing what specific type of IBD you have. With this information, you’ll be able to better understand your risks and the potential treatment options available to you.
Types of inflammatory bowel disease
- Crohn’s disease - With Crohn’s disease, inflammation can occur anywhere in your GI tract but is most commonly seen in the small intestine. Crohn’s disease often shows up as patches of inflammation surrounded by healthy tissue and may affect the entire thickness of your GI tract.
- Ulcerative colitis - With ulcerative colitis, inflammation occurs in your rectum and large intestine (your colon) and affects the innermost lining of the GI tract.
- Microscopic colitis - With microscopic colitis, inflammation occurs in your large intestine but is not visible to the naked eye or during a colonoscopy. Microscopic colitis gets its name because inflammation is only visible when a sample of your intestine is viewed under a microscope.
- Indeterminate colitis or IBD-unclassified - If your doctor isn’t sure whether you have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease based on your biopsies, you may be diagnosed with indeterminate colitis or IBD-unclassified.
Types of Crohn’s disease
The type of Crohn’s disease you have is determined by the location and behavior of your disease.
Types of Crohn’s disease by disease location
- Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease - This type of Crohn's disease affects the stomach and the beginning of the small intestine (also called the duodenum).
- Jejunoileitis - This type of Crohn's disease affects the upper half of the small intestine (the jejunum).
- Ileal Crohn’s disease - This type of Crohn’s disease, also known as Crohn’s ileitis, only affects your ileum (the last part of your small intestine).
- Ileocolitis - Ileocolitis, sometimes referred to as ileocolonic Crohn’s disease, is characterized by inflammation of the ileum (the lower part of your small intestine) and the colon (the large intestine). Ileocolitis is the most common form of Crohn’s disease, affecting about 50% of people with the disease.
- Crohn’s colitis - Crohn’s colitis, also known as colonic Crohn’s disease, is a type of Crohn’s disease that only affects the large intestine (the colon).
- Perianal Crohn’s disease - this type of Crohn’s disease affects the area surrounding your anus
Types of Crohn’s disease by disease behavior
- Stricturing Crohn’s disease - This type of Crohn’s disease results in the formation of strictures. Strictures are a narrowing or constriction of the digestive tract caused by inflammation or scar tissue build-up. Strictures may lead to partial or complete blockages of your intestines and may require surgery to treat.
- Penetrating Crohn’s disease - This type of Crohn’s disease results in the formation of perforations, fistulas, or abscesses in the GI tract.
- Non-stricturing/non-penetrating Crohn’s disease - this type of Crohn’s disease does not show the behaviors of stricturing or penetrating disease.
Types of ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis has four subtypes based on how much of the large intestine is affected:
- Ulcerative proctitis - With ulcerative proctitis, inflammation is present only in the rectum (the last part of your GI tract before your anus). Ulcerative proctitis is also sometimes referred to as just proctitis.
- Proctosigmoiditis - With proctosigmoiditis, inflammation is present in the rectum and the last part of your large intestine (called the sigmoid colon).
- Left-sided colitis - If you have left-sided colitis, your doctor saw inflammation in the left side of your large intestine (called the descending colon), but not across the colon, or on the right side. With left-sided colitis, inflammation extends from the rectum to the left side of your colon.
- Pancolitis - With pancolitis, also known as extensive colitis, inflammation is present throughout the large intestine from the rectum to the parts of your colon closest to the small intestine.
Types of microscopic colitis
There are two different subtypes of microscopic colitis:
- Collagenous colitis - This type of microscopic colitis is characterized by a thickening of the collagen bands that make up the connective tissue in your intestines.
- Lymphocytic colitis - With lymphocytic colitis, the top layer of your intestinal lining (the mucosa) contains an abnormally high number of white blood cells, called lymphocytes.
How to know which type of IBD you have
If you’re unsure which type of IBD you have, reach out to your doctor and ask!
No matter what type of IBD you have, working with an IBD-specialized registered dietitian can help you relieve your symptoms and safely expand your diet.