What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease. It causes redness, inflammation and swelling, leading to symptoms like diarrhea and abdominal pain. While in most cases, inflammation in the digestive tract occurs when your body’s immune system tries to fight against foreign bodies and disappears after removing the foreign bodies. With colitis, the inflammation continues until it eventually damages the digestive tract. (x)
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disease and characterized by bloody diarrhea. Other symptoms like arthritis could also be present. Medical professionals confirm the diagnosis by conducting a colonoscopy. Treatment includes corticosteroids, immune-modulators, antibiotics and sometimes surgery. (x) (x)
There are two types of inflammatory bowel disease — ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The fundamental difference between the two is that the former deals with continuous inflammation of your bowels, while in the latter, the inflammation is not constant. Both of them are chronic in nature. (x) (x)
Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms
This disorder is an inflammatory health issue that comes with symptoms like weight loss, ulcerative colitis bleeding, abdominal and rectal pain, fatigue, diarrhea and other symptoms. Ulcerative colitis symptoms include the following: (x) (x)
Many of those who have ulcerative colitis usually experience accompanying abdominal pain and cramps. (x)
Fatigue is a common symptom for those who have ulcerative colitis. Besides fatigue and exhaustion, other related symptoms come into play, such as fever, anemia, malaise and anorexia. Some suffering from this condition have also reported joint and skin issues. (x) (x)
- Inflammation and Redness
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disorder that does not diminish after removing the foreign bodies. Instead, it continues and eventually damages the digestive tract. Since it is a chronic disease, the inflammation tends to flare up and subside because of factors such as stress and diet. (x)
- Rectal Bleeding
Ulcers tend to form in the bowel area during periods of inflammation. These ulcers can open and bleed, which means you can see blood and mucus in the stool. With high inflammation, pus could also be present in your stool. With ulcerative colitis, stools can be normal to lose, and the accompanying blood, pus and other discharges could even occur between bowel movements. The location of the inflammation determines the state of the bowel movements. Patients experiencing looser stools may have over ten bowel movements a day along with severe abdominal cramps. (x) (x)
Diarrhea is a significant symptom of ulcerative colitis. Diarrhea is because the inflamed bowel is less able to absorb water. Along with this, chances are you will also experience pain and cramps. Bloody diarrhea is not uncommon, with increased urges to pass bowel movements. Frequent excretion and bearing down can wear on the lining of the lower intestine and result in bleeding. (x) (x)
- Weight Loss
Due to fatigue and reduced appetite, those with ulcerative colitis tend to lose weight very rapidly. (x)
- Other Symptoms
Other symptoms of ulcerative colitis include mouth ulcers, skin problems, eye issues, liver disease and joint pain. (x) (x)
Causes of Ulcerative Colitis
The causes of ulcerative colitis help you understand the health concern, which goes into detail in this section. Let us look at some of the risk factors briefly, first, as described by the points below:
- Immune system
There are multiple causes of ulcerative colitis. So far, the exact cause is unknown but relates to one or more of the factors mentioned below:
The immune system is one of the body’s primary defenses against infections. Sometimes, the immune system attacks healthy tissues by mistake. The consequences of this include inflammation, swelling and redness of the afflicted area. (x)
Autoimmune conditions develop by the white blood cells released into the blood to destroy infections. Sometimes, while the bacterial infection triggers the immune system, for some reason, it does not turn off when the bacterial trigger is no longer present. It again can cause inflammation. (x)
Genetics is one of the most common reasons for which inflammatory bowel conditions exist. Family history is an essential factor in such instances. Many cases of ulcerative colitis relate to a preexisting case within the patient’s family history. Found densely among African, Hispanic or Asian descents because multiple ulcerative colitis related genes play an essential role in whether you are more likely to develop ulcerative colitis. (x) (x)
Another critical factor that can expose anyone to bacteria is the environment where you live. Several environmental factors play a role in developing ulcerative colitis, such as diet, air pollution and so forth. Environments with poor sanitation are likely to spread bacteria that can induce the disease quickly. It means that you need to be exposed to as much generic bacteria as possible to allow the body to learn and adapt to fighting these bacteria and preventing ulcerative colitis. (x) (x)Though the primary triggers mentioned in the above point, it is also worth noting that factors such as stress, emotional distress and food might also lead to the development of ulcerative colitis. (x)
Ulcerative Colitis Treatment
Medical professionals decide ulcerative colitis treatment based on the severity of the condition and the frequency of the symptoms. The treatment usually involves medicines or surgery. There are different categories of drugs that are effective on a case-by-case basis. In order to avoid harmful side effects and complications, the severity of the condition determines the type of drug use as a treatment. Some drugs include:
- Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
These kinds of drugs are the first ones to be administered in case of ulcerative colitis. Depending on the area of the affected colon, the physician administers them either as an enema or orally. (x) (x)
These drugs usually contain hydrocortisone and prednisone and are generally advised for those suffering from medium to severe colitis. When the other treatments fail, this option applies. Doctors rarely prescribe corticosteroids for extended periods because of their side effects. (x) (x)
- Immune System Suppressors
These drugs work really well to reduce inflammation. They do this by suppressing the immune system response. Some patients respond better to a combination of these drugs rather than one medication on its own. (x)
Since fever is a significant symptom of ulcerative colitis, taking antibiotics will help control infection and deal with fever. (x)
- Pain Relievers
If the patient complains of pain and cramps, doctors may advise acetaminophen. Medical professionals do not recommend ibuprofen since it could increase the severity of the disorder. Learning to relax your body along with pain relievers seems to help some patients. (x) (x)
- Anti-Diarrheal Medications
In order to treat or help deal with diarrhea, health care professionals may prescribe loperamide. Take precautions when taking anti-diarrheal medicines since they could lead to toxic megacolon. (x) Megacolon causes your large intestine to enlarge and thicken, resulting in severe constipation. (x)
- Iron Supplements
If you suffer from chronic intestinal bleeding, your doctor may advise that you take iron supplements. Intestinal bleeding or any internal bleeding may lead to anemia and iron deficiency. (x)
Surgery is another option for treatment. However, in this case, they remove the entire colon and rectum. The surgeon will then reattach the small intestine to a hole made in the torso to allow waste to empty into an external pouch. Surgeons can also create an internal pelvic waste pouch to allow waste to pass through the anus, enabling the patient to use the bathroom as usual. (x) (x)
Ulcerative Colitis Remedies and Supplements
Before trying any new supplement, talk with your caregiver first. Some supplemental treatments for this disorder include:
- Omega 3-6-9 – 3 soft gels, twice a day
- Ginseng – one dose of 1000 mg, twice a day
- Bilberry Extract – one dose of 400 mg, twice a day
- Cocoa Extract – one dose of 500 mg, once a day
- Green Tea Extract – one dose of 500 mg, twice a day
- Vitamin D – 50 mg once a day
Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis
Controlling your lifestyle is one of the most critical aspects of handling ulcerative colitis, as this can help prevent the symptoms before flare-ups. Not only does it help in controlling the symptoms, but it also reduces the stress of living with the disease. Consume food in small portions throughout the day rather than having three full meals, drastically reducing abdominal discomfort after eating. (x)
Having yogurt with live cultures and other fermented food is good for your gut health, especially in this scenario since these naturally contain probiotics. Consuming enough prebiotics and probiotics along with a proper ulcerative colitis diet may help a great deal. (x) (x)
Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties, which can be extremely helpful when treating ulcerative colitis based on a study. The study concluded the herb was a safe remedy. (x) It is a primary component of turmeric. A patient may supplement with curcumin extract or add more turmeric into their daily diet.
Other edibles include fish oil, psyllium husk and foods that are high in fiber may be helpful. Relaxation exercises may help try engaging in tai chi, yoga or meditation. These practices reduce stress and help with living a healthier life. Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese system, could also help in addition to regular treatment. (x) (x) (x) (x)
Supplements for Ulcerative Colitis
Supplementing your diet with vitamins and extracts may help you live better with this health concern, but talk to your doctor first. Some natural treatments include:
- Omega 3-6-9
Omega 3-6-9 is fish oil that helps in reducing the inflammation seen during ulcerative colitis. This supplement is also safe for the body to digest, and there are no side effects when taken daily. Research shows Omega-3 given to patients with Crohn’s disease helped them remain in remission. (x)
Ginseng is one of the most trusted supplements that many people value. It may create positive influences on your body’s metabolism. Research shows positive results of ginseng in vitro and in vivo models with the growth of probiotic bacteria. (x) Another study proved the same positive results with the emphasis on lower inflammation. (x)
These contain high amounts of anthocyanins that have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects. This extract has a significant and therapeutic effect on those who have ulcerative colitis based on a study. Another added benefit of taking bilberries is there are no side effects. (x)
- Green Tea and Other Therapeutic Teas
Green tea containing ginger and turmeric is especially useful in dealing with the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. It is because of the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger and curcumin present in turmeric. Fennel green tea could help calm your digestive system and give relief from abdominal pain and cramps. Calendula tea, made using calendula flowers, may also be helpful. (x) (x)
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The Bottom Line
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. The major symptoms include abdominal pain, cramps, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, inflammation and fatigue. Its cause could be autoimmune conditions, heredity or genetic reasons, or some environmental factors, such as sanitation, diet, and pollution. Stress and poor emotional health could also lead to ulcerative colitis.
Treatment for this disease includes medicines and surgery. Doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-diarrheal medication and antibiotics to help with the symptoms. Your physician will choose based on the symptoms and their severity.
If you have ulcerative colitis, you will need to change your lifestyle to continue to live a long and healthier life. Natural remedies also help, such as bilberry, ginseng, green tea, vitamin D and cocoa are all excellent edible elements to fight against this disorder. Following a healthy diet, meditation, yoga, or acupuncture will also help in treating ulcerative colitis.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.