What is ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disorder that affects the large intestine (colon) lining and rectum. The inflammation typically begins in the rectal area and lower portion of the colon and might spread to the whole large intestine with time. Its onset is usually slow. Typically, an attack starts with a heightened urgency to defecate, moderate lower abdominal cramps, and the appearance of pus and blood in the stools. The seriousness of the condition varies between people.
Ulcerative colitis usually begins between ages 15 and 30, or occasionally between ages 50 and 70. However, it may occur in people of any age. It usually affects men and women alike, and sometimes, there might be a family history of the problem. Individuals who have ulcerative colitis have an increased risk of developing bowel cancer, mainly if the problem is extensive. Acupuncture for colitis conditions can be beneficial for this particular illness.
What causes ulcerative colitis?
The specific cause of the problem is unknown, but researchers think there are a variety of factors involved. Ulcerative colitis is supposed to be what is called an autoimmune condition. Some researchers believe that the body's immune system reacts to a virus or bacterium by causing ongoing inflammation in the intestinal wall. Others feel that no disease is involved, and the immune system just malfunctions alone. A significant view is that the immune system mistakes benign bacteria within the colon as a threat and attacks the colon's cells, causing it to become inflamed.
Why the immune system behaves and functions this way is unclear. Experts believe a combination of environmental factors and genetic is involved. It's believed that ulcerative colitis isn't directly brought on by emotional distress or sensitivity to certain foods or food products, although these factors may trigger symptoms in some people.
Symptoms and complications of ulcerative colitis
Inflammation can lead to the colon becoming empty often, and more frequently, causing diarrhea. Tiny open sores formed on the surface of the lining of the colon can lead to blood in the stool. The inflamed lining also generates a larger than normal quantity of intestinal mucus, which occasionally contains pus. The symptoms of ulcerative colitis may fluctuate based on the amount of inflammation and colon infection. Typical symptoms include:
- Bloody diarrhea with mucus
- Abdominal pain
- Appetite and weight loss
- Tiredness and fatigue
When inflammation has penetrated deeper into the walls of the colon, severe complications like profuse bleeding from acute ulcers and perforation of the colon may emerge. Other complications like cirrhosis, inflammation of the eye, arthritis, or osteoporosis may occur when the immune system triggers inflammation in other areas of the body.
Diagnosis of ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis can be challenging to diagnose, as symptoms are similar to other intestinal disorders, most notably irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn's disease. Ulcerative colitis can be similar to Crohn's disease, a kind of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis is different from Crohn's disease because the inflammation is confined to the upper layers of the intestinal lining. Crohn's disease causes inflammation throughout the full depth of the intestinal wall. Additionally, ulcerative colitis affects only the large bowel (colon and rectum), whereas. Crohn's disease, on the other hand, can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus.
The distinction between ulcerative colitis and IBS is that in the latter, the gut function is affected, but its appearance remains healthy, and there's no inflammation.
A thorough physical examination and a series of tests may be required to diagnose ulcerative colitis. Most people will need a colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or barium enema to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests can reveal whether you have anemia or any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Stool tests can show if you have bleeding and disease.
There are numerous organic possibilities for people wanting to manage UC.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
From the view of TCM, ulcerative colitis could be caused by the invasion of the exterior pathogenic factors, inherent deficiencies, or an unbalanced diet. Constitutional deficiencies usually refer to spleen, gut, and kidney deficiencies. The invasion of exterior pathogenic factors refers to damp-heat or damp-cold. An unbalanced diet like one high in cold or raw foods may harm the spleen and stomach by blocking functions in transforming and transporting nutrients and food. Therapies, including acupuncture, could bolster a change of diet.
Eating foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt, may help handle UC. Probiotics are bacteria or germs that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. Some foods, like kimchi and yogurt, contain natural probiotics. Alternatively, someone could buy probiotics over the counter at most major food stores and drugstores.
A 2019 research looked at how individuals with UC responded to using probiotics. Researchers found that 57 percent of people who used the probiotics reported a positive overall experience. Also, 50 percent of the responders noted an improvement in their symptoms, such as stool frequency and feel.
Individuals that are interested in probiotics should speak with a healthcare professional who can recommend reputable supplement brands.
But a probiotic can't replace conventional medication. Individuals must continue to take their medications according to their prescriptions.
- Herbal medicines
A 2019 review emphasized several Organic substances that may reduce UC symptoms, for example:
- Andrographis paniculata infusion
- plantago ovata seeds
- aloe vera gel
- wheatgrass juice
- Boswellia serrata gum resin
In the review, the authors indicate that specific compounds in these herbal remedies encourage immune activity and supply antioxidants that reduce inflammation. The study authors recommend that individuals with UC should just use them as supplementary remedies alongside traditional medicines.
Lifestyle behavior changes
Sometimes, someone with UC may realize that making simple lifestyle changes supplies some symptom relief. These changes could be beneficial such as group therapy to help with the psychological ramifications of UC, and exercise, which may support weight control and boost energy levels.
Particular dietary changes can make a difference in helping people reduce symptoms and flare-ups. These may include:
- drinking lots of water to stop dehydration
- drinking electrolyte beverages
- eating many smaller meals instead of three big ones
- eating well and avoiding restrictive diets
- reducing fatty, buttery foods intake
- eating a low-fiber diet
- carrying calcium and vitamin D supplements
- avoiding milk products, as many people with UC have lactose intolerance.
Some people may discover that keeping a food journal can be helpful. By recording their food intake and symptoms, someone could work out which foods trigger flare-ups and eliminate them from their diet. There's not any specific research supporting a particular diet program for UC. However, some research suggests that certain chemical plant chemicals known as phytochemicals can help alleviate symptoms of UC. In 2014, a review of research found that phytochemicals from apples, cocoa, green tea, along with other foods and nutritional supplements, could decrease UC symptoms in animals. However, the review suggests a need for additional studies to ascertain the benefits of these compounds in humans.
Conventional UC treatments
Some traditional treatments can send UC into remission. Herbal remedies work best alongside more conventional treatments, which individuals with UC generally tolerate well despite them having some side effects. Drugs and therapies carry a risk of side effects. Someone should speak with their doctor about possible side effects when they get a prescription for new medicine.