Ulcerative colitis refers to the medical condition caused by the inflammation of the large intestine. It is considered to be a form of inflammatory bowel disease and is similar to Crohn’s disease. It is a chronic condition requiring long-term treatment and disease management.
While the inflammation takes place in the rectum and the lower colon, it may spread to other parts of the colon or capture the whole colon in certain cases. Small sores or ulcers may then form on the surface of the lining and bleed.
The inflamed lining may also produce excessive intestinal lubricant/mucous. This may contain pus. Because inflammation of the colon reduces its ability to reabsorb fluid from the faeces, the condition causes diarrhoea.
According to certain sources of data, nearly 85,000 Australians suffer from this condition, at present. This post examines the types and causes of ulcerative colitis.
Types of ulcerative colitis
Inflammation is located in the area closest to the rectum. Rectal bleeding may occur as a result.
This type of inflammation takes place in the rectum and the lower end of the colon. Symptoms include bloody stools, stomach cramps, and an inability to move the bowels despite a clear urge.
For patients with this type of ulcerative colitis, the inflammation extends from the rectum, through the sigmoid and descending colon. In addition to weight loss, other symptoms are similar to those of proctosigmoiditis.
This condition affects the whole colon, causing similar symptoms to those outlined above. Patients may also experience fatigue and significant weight loss.
Acute severe ulcerative colitis
This form of colitis affects the entire colon and results in significant pain, acute diarrhoea, bleeding, fever, and an inability to eat.
Causes of ulcerative colitis
Immune system malfunction
Similar to other major medical conditions, the causes of ulcerative colitis are under investigation.
Medical professionals consider an immune system malfunction to be a likely cause. When the immune system tries to fight off a virus or bacteria, an abnormal immune response causes the immune system to attack the cells in the digestive tract.
Even once the infection clears, the immune system continues responding, resulting in ongoing inflammation.
Certain experts believe that the disease may be an autoimmune condition, where the immune system fights phantom infections, leading to inflammation.
Another possible cause of ulcerative colitis is a history of this condition within a patient’s family. According to certain sources, one-fifth of patients who suffer from this condition have a close relative who suffers from the same.
Ulcerative colitis can also be caused by certain environmental factors. These include unhealthy diets, pollution, cigarette smoke and poor hygiene.
High intake of linoleic acid
The condition can also be caused by a high intake of linoleic acid, which a common fatty acid. This is found in red meat, certain cooking oils and certain types of margarine.
Apart from the direct causes of ulcerative colitis, there are certain risk factors that affect an individual’s chance of developing this condition. These include:
While this condition can take place at almost any age, ulcerative colitis generally begins affecting patients before the age of 30. Otherwise, patients suffer from the disease after the age of 60.
According to certain sources, race can play a role in terms of patients who experience this gastroenterological condition. Caucasians are at higher risk of developing ulcerative colitis, particularly those from Eastern Europe or Russia.
This is a medication used to treat tough cases of acne. While the connection isn’t clear, medical professionals believe that this medication may be linked to this condition.
As outlined previously in this post, family members with this condition can increase the likelihood that individuals related to them will develop this condition.
Receiving trusted medical attention for the treatment of ulcerative colitis
Due to its status as an inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis is a serious condition that requires professional medical treatment.
For patients suffering from this condition, receiving long-term care is crucial. In the absence of outright treatment or cure, careful disease management is important. By receiving medication and lifestyle guidance, individuals can expect to live healthy and comfortable lives.
For more information on ulcerative colitis, Sydney Gut Clinic’s experienced gastroenterology specialists can be consulted.