Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a condition that affects the colon and rectum and can make a person’s life completely miserable in the process. Like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis affects the digestive tract and can cause a flare-up capable of forcing a person to suffer from diarrhea that is mixed with blood and is extremely uncomfortable. Ulcerative colitis is actually a form of inflammatory bowel disease that is caused by ulcers in the rectal area. Although the name sounds similar to inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis is actually much more serious.

This condition occurs in about a 10th of a percent of the population in the United States and is often attributed to genetics. Unlike inflammatory bowel syndrome, this condition is actually far less affected by diets, which makes it much more difficult to treat. This doesn’t mean that you can help reduce effects by changing your diet, but you might have to use medication to fully recover from a flare-up.

In the cases where doctors suppose that diet might be a contributing factor to the onset of the disease, some studies have shown that diets lacking in fiber and/or high in refined sugar might have been the cause. Still, this link is still premature and as of now has not been fully verified. Other sources say that some sort of autoimmune condition is the reason for the disease. However, these claims too are still unproven. Lastly, there are some camps that claim that a bacteria is the cause of ulcerative colitis, which result in an increased level of hydrogen in the intestinal tract.

Symptoms of the disease can range from mild to severe, which means that a person can experience anything from mild cramping to severe cases of diarrhea and bloody stool. In these extreme cases, the colon become severely infected with ulcers and the condition is very painful to say the least.

Unfortunately, ulcerative colitis can increase a person’s risk for cancer in that area, however treating the symptoms of the disease early can help to reduce that risk. The problem with ulcerative colitis, is that the flare-ups come and go and the condition is rarely persistent in its symptoms. This makes not only the diagnosis, but the treatment much more difficult.

Like other diseases of this nature, a combination of anti-inflammatory medications, steroidal medications, and at immunosuppression drugs are used to treat it over the long term. Although medical researchers are unsure if ulcerative colitis is actually an autoimmune disease, it is still treated as such. The goal was most treatment is to reduce the flare-up and then lower the chances of them occurring again. This kind of treatment can be hit and miss depending on the severity of the condition and might include years of prescription medications and other treatments.

Research is still early, however many times ulcerative colitis can be put into remission for extended periods of time, if not forever. The person most capable of helping you diagnose and treat ulcerative colitis, is a doctor that is knowledgeable in these types of conditions. In some cases, UC can only be treated by removing part of the colon, which is a process called a colectomy. Keep in mind though, that a doctor will only use this surgery in extreme circumstances.

Ulcerative colitis is not fatal on its own, however it can severely reduced quality of life for the affected person. This means that treatment is paramount to good health and well-being and that ignoring treatment or symptoms, can result in far worse pain and suffering. Clearly the best way to prevent any disease is to get as much information about as possible and if you have not yet been affected by ulcerative colitis, and I recommend that you increase your daily fiber intake are reducing the amount of sugar that you consume. Even if you might never be at risk for this condition, these two tips alone can improve your overall health. If you do feel any signs or symptoms of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, then I recommend that you see a doctor immediately.

Last updated on Feb 12th, 2009 and filed under Digestive Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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