Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis pain

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of ulcerative colitis

Inflammatory bowel diseases are becoming increasingly common throughout the world. They mainly originate from autoimmune disorders and hereditary factors. The recent epidemiological studies conducted by the World Gastroenterology Organisation suggest that about 1-1.3 million people worldwide are suffering from some form of inflammatory bowel disease. The most common type of inflammatory bowel disease that is more prevalent in elderly males is “Ulcerative Colitis”. It is a major threat to healthy living and can even lead to a permanent bowel disease. This disease is usually hereditary in nature. The reports by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that around 10-25% of people suffering from colitis have a family member(s) who are suffering from the disease.

What is ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis intestinesUlcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the mucosal linings of the rectum and the colon. Reddish or greyish patches and ulcers are formed on the inner linings of the large intestine as an inflammatory response to some pathogen or due to some injury. The ulcers may release purulent discharge in the more severe stages of the disease. The infection starts in the rectum and gradually spreads to the colon. In general, ulcerative colitis is idiopathic in nature, that is, the exact cause of the disease is not determined. Thorough research has revealed that autoimmune disorders of the intestinal system may lead to ulcerative colitis in many cases. But this is subjected to further investigation. It is normally manifested as rectal bleeding, disturbed bowel movements, and abdominal pain.

Difference between ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease

Often, misdiagnosis of inflammatory bowel diseases leads to incorrect treatments. This happens due to the similarities between the two types of bowel diseases that is Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis. Hence a clear knowledge of the differences between the two diseases is necessary. Crohn’s disease is usually restricted to the lower segment of the small intestine (ileum), whereas ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine (rectum and colon). Crohn’s disease is characterized by irregular reddish patches occurring at different regions of the bowel. On the other hand, ulcerative colitis occurs as large areas of continuous reddish inflammations on the bowel linings. While rectal bleeding is common in ulcerative colitis, it is very rare in Crohn’s disease.

Causes and risk factors of ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis painUlcerative colitis is caused by both autoimmune and genetic factors. The common aetiological factors are listed below-

  • Autoimmune disorders that cause the immune system of the body to attack the gastrointestinal tract (since it falsely identifies some of the intestinal bacteria as harmful foreign matter)
  • Imbalance of intestinal bacteria
  • Defects or mutations in the NOD2/CARD15 gene that is passed on to the next generations
  • Ancestral history of immune disorders
  • Appendectomy in the past, that exposes the large intestine to bacterial infections
  • An occurrence of other bowel diseases or gastrointestinal disorder
  • Being an active smoker or alcohol addict
  • Taking antibiotics or Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen for a long time (adversely impacts the immune system of the body)
  • Consumption of food items that can irritate the linings of the stomach and small intestine
  • Toxicity induced by harmful substances present in the environment such as lead, mercury, cadmium etc
  • Being aged or being a Caucasian

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is usually manifested through some serious gastrointestinal disorders. The following symptoms are commonly observed-

  • Abdominal pain (experienced on the lower left section of the abdomen)
  • Abdominal cramps during bowel movements or after a meal
  • Diarrhea like symptoms (semi-liquid or watery stools with unpleasant odor)
  • Presence of mucus and blood in stool (due to bleeding from the ulcers)
  • Rectal bleeding even when there is no bowel movement
  • A frequent urge for bowel movement even when there is hardly any stool to pass
  • Loss of appetite leading to abnormal weight loss
  • Dehydration, drying up of mouth and tongue, sunken eyes and cheeks (due to a passage of large quantities of fluid and minerals from the body)
  • Anemia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low-grade fever
  • Joint pain
  • Skin rashes and irritation
  • Soreness and irritation in the eyes
  • Fatigue

Types of ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitisDepending on the degree of infection and parts of the large intestine affected, ulcerative colitis is classified into the following types-

  • Ulcerative proctitis: It is a mild and form of ulcerative colitis. It causes ulcers and inflammation only in the rectum. The patients experience rectal pain and bleeding and the need for frequent defecation.
  • Proctosigmoiditis: This type of ulcerative colitis affects the rectum and the lower portion of the colon, also known as the sigmoid colon. The common symptoms are- Diarrhoea with blood, abdominal cramps and difficulty having bowel movements (tenesmus). Patients often experience pain in the lower left section of the abdomen.
  • Left-sided colitis: It is characterized by continuous inflammation that starts at the rectum and spreads till the splenic flexure (colonic curvature close to the spleen). The patients experience severe pain in lower left side of the abdomen. Other common symptoms include Diarrhoea with blood, abnormal weight loss and loss of appetite.
  • Pancolitis: It is also known as Pan-ulcerative colitis. This is the most severe form of ulcerative colitis. Infections occur in the entire colon. The symptoms are very serious and include- severe rectal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, and abnormal weight loss.

Another classification of ulcerative colitis is done based on the intensity of the disease-

  • Acute ulcerative colitis: It is a short-termed infection of the colon that resolves on its own or through mild medications.
  • Chronic ulcerative colitis: This form of colitis is very severe and persists for several months. The patients have excessive rectal bleeding and may require surgical intervention.

Diagnosis

The following diagnostic tests are carried out-

Treatment & Prevention

  • Medicines: Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aminosalicylates and corticosteroids are taken either orally or via an enema.  These help in controlling the flare-ups. Additionally, immunosuppressant drugs will also be prescribed which will suppress the body’s immune response.  In order to treat the related infections and digestive disorders, antibiotics, anti-diarrheal, and painkiller drugs may also be administered to the patient.
  • Surgery: Surgery usually involves removal of the entire colon and rectum (proctocolectomy) and can help in eliminating ulcerative colitis.  One would require to get regularly screened for colon cancer.

Preventing ulcerative colitis is not possible. But the magnitude  of symptoms and frequency of flare-ups can be reduced by following these precautionary measures:

  • Avoid dairy products, high-fiber vegetables, and spicy foods.
  • Eat small and frequent meals. The meals should consist of soft, bland, and easily digestible foods.
  • Take daily recommended dosage of multivitamins as your intestines are not able to absorb nutrients adequately from the food.
  • Manage your stress. High stress levels cause stomach acid levels to rise and that can further worsen the colitis condition.
  • Follow mild exercises such as walking. Yoga and meditation are also proven to be helpful.

Facts

  • Getting an adequate amount of sleep post-treatment is very important in order to prevent future flare-ups of the pain.
  • Around 10-25% of patients with ulcerative colitis have a family history of the condition.

Facts

  • Ashkenazi Jews are highly susceptible to Ulcerative Colitis, which is also known as Crohn’s Disease.
  • The adverse effects of ulcerative colitis are not just limited to the intestines only. It can affect joints, skin, eyes, and even the kidneys.

Facts

  • More than 700,000 Americans are currently suffering from ulcerative colitis and roughly 30,000 new cases are reported in the USA alone.
  • There is no known cure for this condition.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • One should opt to consume lean meats and proteins if diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
  • Eating smaller meals and bland foods will help obtain relief from the painful symptoms.
  • Keep a close check on your diet and document everything you eat. This will help you assess what is safe for you and what could trigger the pain.
Don'ts
  • Consume high-fiber legumes and vegetables. Also, refrain from eating raw or partially cooked foods as these tend to put a strain on your intestines.
  • Eat whole nuts. If not chewed properly, these can irritate the intestinal linings and worsen the condition.
  • Consume a high dairy diet, especially during an episode of flare up. In some cases, dairy products can cause bloating, diarrhea, and gas.

 

 

 

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Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
What to eat, what not to eat in the South Beach Diet? The South Beach Diet is one among the most popular weight loss programs that have been the talk…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
PROGESTERONE_test
Progesterone test The progesterone test is a blood test used to determine the level of hormone progesterone in the blood…
antihepatitis core antigent
Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) Total Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC ) is a blood examination and the only serological marker of infectious blood…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Plexus Slim: Is this pink slimming drink the ultimate one-stop fat burner? How effective is Plexus Slim in helping people lose weight? What are its ingredients? Can it be safely…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…