Colitis

A person holding their stomach, with a drawing of the large intestine over top of the photo.

Everything You Need to Know About Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a painful condition that can disrupt the lives of those who have had the misfortune of being diagnosed with this disease. Fortunately, modern medicine has made treating and managing UC (ulcerative colitis) slightly easier than it has been in the past. Nonetheless, it is important to know what you’re up against as you look for ways to treat and manage your condition.

Colitis

As far as ulcerative colitis symptoms are concerned, they are generally characterized by urgent bowel movements, bloody stool, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. For many people, this disease is a source of frustration because it can be disruptive and also embarrassing. In addition, many people tend to struggle in finding effective treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms they are experiencing.

Chron’s Disease or Colitis?

When it comes to problematic bowel movements, Chron’s disease and UC share many of the same symptoms. However, there are a few differences worth noting. For example, UC is typically associated with pain radiating from the lower left abdomen and bloody stool. Chron’s disease, however, is associated with pain that is felt in the lower abdomen and rarely causes bloody stool. As such, appropriate treatments for both diseases can vary slightly.

Causes of Colitis

Now that we have a basic understanding of UC, let’s take a moment to identify the cause of the disease.

UC is a disease that is delineated by ebbs and flows, meaning some people can go a very long time without any flare-ups. In fact, this period of dormancy can last from a few months to years before problems will start to present themselves again. That said, UC is a disease that attacks the lining of the colon and causes inflammation, sores, and ulcers. It is also not uncommon for the colon to begin producing excessive mucous during this time.

All in all, the combination of events can result in abdominal pain and other bowel problems.

Interactions With the Immune System

UC and the immune system are more interrelated than most people may think. In fact, the disease reacts in response to a misguided immune system. The cells and proteins that are inherently part of the immune system work collectively to protect the body from infection. However, when UC or irritable bowel syndrome comes into the picture, the immune system confuses food, as well as vitamins and nutrients, with foreign substances. In response, it immediately acts to remove these substances from the body.

To further put all of this into context, the immune system will dispatch white blood cells to the intestines where they work to destroy and prevent foreign substances from completely invading the body. Generally speaking, this is how the immune system is designed to work. However, in response to UC and irritable bowel syndrome, this act of self-preservation leads to less than pleasant experiences for those diagnosed with either disease.

If you’re struggling with UC, you can take solace in knowing that you’re not alone. Studies have shown that more than 900,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with the disease.