Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. If it is not gotten under control, ulcerative colitis can be incapacitating and cause complications that can be life-threatening. It is called “colitis” because it mostly affects the large intestine, which is often called the colon, and sometimes the rectum; “itis” means inflammation. There is no known cure for ulcerative colitis, but it is surely possible to get it into a state of remission; there are treatments and therapies available to make life easier for those who have ulcerative colitis. It is extremely important to be able to pinpoint the cause or causes of the triggers that can instigate a flare-up of ulcerative colitis. While it isn’t a pleasant condition, you can find a way to live with it!
Causes of Ulcerative Colitis
There is a difference between what causes the condition of ulcerative colitis and what causes a flare-up of ulcerative colitis. Experts are not sure what actually causes people to have the condition, although there are some assumptions.
Immune system reaction
Some believe that a virus or bacteria can cause ulcerative colitis in a person; the idea is that the digestive tract becomes inflamed while trying to eliminate the pathogen, or invading microorganism. There is also some thought that it may become inflamed without a pathogen present, which would be called an autoimmune reaction.
Those who have a sibling or parent with ulcerative colitis seem to be more likely to get the condition, so genetics may play a role in causing the condition to develop.
Although the exact cause isn’t known, the assumptions paired with the fact that there are a number of risk factors associated with developing ulcerative colitis, suggests that some people are more prone to it than others. Ulcerative colitis most often affects people in their 30s, 50s, or 60s. For some reason, those of Jewish descent have a higher risk. As mentioned previously, a family history of ulcerative colitis greatly increases your risk. Some medications—nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and Accutane, which is a very powerful acne medication—have shown to cause some of the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, but not the condition itself; undoubtedly, though, these medications can make ulcerative colitis worse.
Cause of the Triggers
For those who have ulcerative colitis, treatment lies in identifying and avoiding the triggers that cause the inflammation; these are different for everyone. While treatment also involves some type of drug therapy or surgery, there are things you can do at home to reduce the amount of flare-ups you have; this would entail recognizing the triggers in your diet to eliminate these causes. Some suggestions for foods to avoid (keep in mind that this won’t work for everyone) are limiting the consumption of dairy products; watch your consumption of fiber since it can aggravate intestinal problems like diarrhea and gas; avoid “gassy” foods, like broccoli, cabbage, and beans; eat five or six small meals every day so there isn’t so much food going through your intestines at once; and drink plenty of liquids, preferably water or those that are not carbonated. Stress is often a cause of the flare-ups in many people; oddly, stress can do many things to the body. In the digestive tract alone it can cause the stomach to empty more slowly and secrete more acids; it can speed or slow the passage of the contents in the stomach and intestines. Find ways to manage your stress. Hopefully, after trying all of these things, you can learn to do away with unwanted and disturbing inflammation flare-ups associated with ulcerative colitis.