What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a long-term condition that results in inflammation and ulceration of the lining of the large intestine, medically called as colon.
The digestive system is responsible for digesting the food we eat so that nutrients in the food are available to provide energy to the body.
The digestive system is a system of organs and consists of long tubes which connects mouth to the anus. When the food leaves the mouth it enter the esophagus (the part of GI tract) and then the stomach. Food pauses for sometime in the stomach and mixed up with the acids and juices present in the stomach.
It then passes into the small intestine, which measures about 20 feet in length. The small intestine has three parts; the part nearest the stomach is the duodenum, the next part is the jejunum and the third part that connects to the large intestine is the ileum. Small intestine is the site where most of the food is digested with the assistance of secretions from the liver, gall bladder, and pancreas. The nutrients from this digested food are then absorbed through small intestine.
Followed by the small intestine is the large intestine, which is more frequently referred to as the colon. The large intestine (colon) is 6-7 feet in length. The first part of the colon is called the caecum and the appendix is found there. The caecum and appendix are situated in right lower portion of the abdomen. Large intestine then extends upward (this portion being called as ascending colon), then takes a turn and passes across (portion called as transverse colon) and then goes down wards (descending colon). At the end of descending colon, portion of large intestine which look like alphabet S is called as sigmoid colon which opens into rectum. The main function of the colon is to absorb water from the processed food residue that arrives after the nutrients have been absorbed in the small intestine. The last part of the colon is the rectum, which is a reservoir for feces. Faeces are stored here until a bowel movement occurs.
The patients of ulcerative colitis have swelling along with ulcers located in their colon and rectum.
Broadly speaking ulcerative colitis is included under an umbrella term called as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a term referring to the diseases that cause chronic inflammatory condition of digestive tract. Another condition included under this category is Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation similar to ulcerative colitis anywhere in the digestive tract from the mouth to the rectum, but more commonly it attacks the small intestine in contrast to ulcerative colitis, which attacks mainly the large intestine.
Types of Ulcerative Colitis:
The inflammation related to ulcerative colitis usually occurs in the rectum and lower part of the colon, but it may affect the entire colon. Ulcerative colitis rarely affects the small intestine except for the lower section, called the ileum. Depending upon which portion of intestine is most affected by UC, it is put under various types as follows.
Entire colon =Pan-colitis (pan =entire, colitis=inflammation of colon)
Sigmoid colon (S shaped portion of colon located just above the rectum) = Sigmoiditis
Beyond sigmoid colon= Left-sided colitis
Inside the large intestine, the inflammation of the inner lining (mucosa) causes death of the colon lining cells and this results in sores or ulcers. Also the inflammation makes the colon to empty frequently resulting in diarrhea. As the lining of the colon is destroyed, ulcers form releasing mucus, pus and blood.
Nature of the disease:
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease and is notorious for its waxing and waning nature.
Usually the patients of ulcerative colitis have alternating periods of relative health where the patient is symptom-free or experiences very mild symptoms (remissions) alternating with periods of active disease (relapse or flare).
Fortunately, as treatment has improved, the proportion of people with continued symptoms appears to have diminished significantly.
How common is the condition:
Ulcerative colitis is a global condition affecting people world over. It is estimated that in Unites states alone there are about one million people who suffer from some form of IBD. About half of the people with IBD have ulcerative colitis; about half have Crohn’s disease.
Ulcerative colitis affects people of all ages, but at large it is the disease of young adults. Most cases of UC are diagnosed in people between the ages 15 to 40 years. However, children as small as few months old and older people sometimes develop the disease.
The incidence of Ulcerative colitis has risen with the tide of civilization. Moreover this is a disease of young people having grievous impact on their education and career.
Ulcerative colitis does not show any gender preference and affect males and females equally. It appears to run in families. Studies also consistently conclude that ulcerative colitis occurs more often within the Jewish population.
causes of TN are explained in detail on a separate page. In short, it has been increasingly proved and understood that most cases of TN have demyelination of the sensory nerve fibers of the Trigeminal Nerve, either in the nerve root or (rarely) the brain stem. Demyelination means an erosion of the nerve sheath, which leads to the exposure of the nerve fibers. The exposed nerve fibers often get compressed or irritated by blood vessels (pulsating arteries or veins), which lead to painful episodes of Trigeminal Neuralgia due to misfiring of the nerve..
Long term complications
Ulcerative Colitis Future & Long Term Complications
Ulcerative colitis is very stubborn affliction of digestive system, which once acquired can garrote the person for his or her entire life. However with rightly chosen medical management it is possible to extend the periods of remission dramatically.
Ulcerative colitis and colon cancer…
While not every person with ulcerative colitis will develop colon cancer, as compared to general population patients with ulcerative colitis bear more chances of having colon cancer (around 10-20%).
The risk of cancer increases with the duration and the extent of involvement of the colon. Colon cancer generally does not appear before someone has had the disease for at least 8-10 years. In addition, if only the lower colon and rectum are involved, the risk of cancer is not higher. Only, if the entire colon is involved, the risk of cancer may be more.
Fortunately, good disease control of ulcerative colitis itself is beneficial with regard to risk for colorectal cancer. This goal can be safely and surely achieved with Homoeopathy.
Other complication of ulcerative colitis, which can pose a medical emergency, is toxic megacolon. Toxic megacolon is a severe dilatation of the colon, which occurs when inflammation spreads from the mucosa through the remaining layers of the colon. The colon becomes paralyzed which can lead to it eventually bursting; this is known as a “perforation”. Such perforation is a dire medical emergency. Warning signs of this condition are abdominal pain/tenderness, abdominal distention, fever, large numbers of stools with obvious blood and a rapid (more than 100/minute) pulse rate. Fortunately, this grave complication appears to be decreasing in frequency, which probably reflects more effective treatment.
There are many other complications of Ulcerative colitis which are common but not life threatening:
01 Growth failure: Growth failure is more common in the pediatric patients. Puberty delay may be greater than 1 year.
02 Kidney stones: Perhaps the most frequent renal problem associated with Ulcerative colitis is kidney stones.
03 Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis, which means “porous bones”, refers to the wasting or deterioration of bone. Bone mass is reduced to a level below that required for adequate support. As a result, the bones become soft and weak and fracture easily.
04 Anemia: The term “anemia” is used by physicians to indicate a low red blood cell count. The main manifestations produced by anemia are weakness and fatigue. Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity, is also common. Patients often find that they just can’t do things with as much energy as they used to.
05 Decreased male fertility: There is some evidence to suggest that fertility in male may go down. This may be related more to ‘sulfa drugs’ prescribed during conventional treatment for the condition rather than disease itself.