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Does Ulcerative Colitis Cause Headaches

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Role For Gut Barrier Function In Migraine

What Causes Ulcerative Colitis in Mice and What Does This Discovery Mean for Humans?

This overview of the literature suggests the existence of a rather strong relationship between GI disorders and migraine. One of the links between inflammatory diseases and migraine are enhanced pro-inflammatory immune responses . In intestinal disorders characterized by an increased intestinal permeability like IBS, IBD, and celiac disease enhanced pro-inflammatory immune responses have been reported . Enhanced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines like tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin 1 in serum of migraine patients have been found during migraine attacks . These cytokines can act on the nociceptors of the trigeminal nerve, causing migraine. Also statistical significant associations have been reported between migraine and a wide range of inflammatory disorders like asthma, obesity, metabolic syndrome, allergies, and GI diseases . A strong trigger of pro-inflammatory immune responses is the leakage of lipopolysaccharides from the intestinal lumen into the circulation. Enhanced levels of LPS can enter the circulation when the intestinal permeability is increased .1). Depending on genetic susceptibility, pro-inflammatory responses can occur in different parts of the body, e.g., in case of migraine on the nociceptors of the trigeminal nerve.

What Is Ulcerative Colitis Exactly

Ulcerative colitis is one of the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease . The other is Crohns disease. U.C. occurs when the immune system malfunctions, causing inflammation and ulcers to appear on the inner lining of the large intestine, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases . Its not comfortable, to put it mildly, and not something that will clear up quickly.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic illness that does not yet have a medical cure. That doesnt mean nothing can be done though, so dont despair if youre experiencing symptoms. Sidhartha Sinha, M.D., a gastroenterologist, assistant professor at Stanford Medicine, and researcher who specializes in IBD, tells SELF that while there arent medical cures for ulcerative colitis, there are medical treatments. And we have made great advancements in these treatments, he says. The last resort is a surgical option called colectomythe removal of the entire colonwhich can eliminate U.C. entirely.

Fatigue In Children With Ulcerative Colitis

In a 2019 study , researchers looked at how children with ulcerative colitis experienced fatigue.

They found that, like adults, children with the condition can experience high levels of fatigue. They noted the following potential reasons for this:

  • disease activity level

According to the Crohns and Colitis Foundation, fatigue is a common issue among people with IBD. It affects 80% of people with active IBD and 50% of people in clinical remission.

Despite the frequency of fatigue in IBD, researchers have indicated that it is often underreported and undertreated. They have noted that doctors often do not treat fatigue because of the subjective nature of the condition.

People with fatigue should talk with a doctor and make sure that they understand how much fatigue affects their life. The more information a person can provide about their symptoms, the more likely the doctor is to understand fatigue as a serious symptom and make recommendations for treatment.

In addition to taking steps to manage and treat ulcerative colitis, a person can make certain lifestyle changes to help reduce fatigue.

Some potential ways for a person to improve fatigue and boost energy levels include:

In one 2020 study , researchers found that the best way to treat fatigue is to treat its underlying causes.

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Migraine And Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The two main forms of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease . These diseases are characterized by defects in the barrier function of the intestinal epithelial layer and the mucosal immune system . Factors that may trigger IBD are antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, stress, and infection. All these factors decrease the mucosal barrier integrity, modulate the immune response, and change the luminal microenvironment, providing the susceptibility to inflammation .

Data about possible correlations between migraine and IBD are scarce. To our knowledge, only two studies investigated the comorbidity between migraine and IBD. In the first study done by Ford et al., 100 patients with Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis were selected from the Gastroenterology clinic at the University of North Carolina . The prevalence of migraine in the IBD patients was 30%. This prevalence rate is higher than the US population basal rate of 18.2% for females and 6.5% for males. In the Crohns disease patients migraine was more prevalent than in the ulcerative colitis patients . In the second study, 111 patients with IBD were questioned in a survey . Prevalence of self-reported migraine was higher in these subjects compared with controls . No reports in the literature were found showing a reduction in migraine frequency or severity with improvements of inflammatory bowel symptoms.

Do Different Types Of Ulcerative Colitis Cause Different Symptoms

Pin on Ulcerative Colitis

Certain symptoms may point to different types of ulcerative colitis. These types, as outlined by the Mayo Clinic, are classified by location within the body:

  • Ulcerative proctitis: With this form of the condition, which tends to be the mildest, a person has inflammation in the area closest to the rectum. Rectal bleeding may be the only sign of the disease.
  • Proctosigmoiditis: Inflammation with this form of the disease involves a persons rectum and lower end of the colon. Symptoms can include bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and an inability to go despite feeling like you need to let loose.
  • Left-sided colitis: This involves inflammation from the rectum, through the lower colon, and into the descending colon. In addition to bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain on the left side, you may also experience weight loss. Most patients will have left-sided disease, Dr. Sinha says.
  • Pancolitis: This usually impacts a persons entire colon, causing bloody diarrhea that can be severe, abdominal pain, fatigue, and rapid weight loss.

Also Check: What Should You Eat With An Ulcer

Migraine And Celiac Disease

Only one study suggests that migraine in celiac disease patients may be relieved by treating celiac disease. Until now, the primary treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet . The effect of a gluten-free diet was investigated in a small study with four patients with both migraine and celiac disease . In one patient migraine completely resolved. In the other three patients, a reduction in migraine frequency, duration, and intensity was reported. This suggests that a gluten-free diet used by celiac disease patients with migraine may give relief in both celiac disease and migraine. However, it should be noticed that only four patients were included in this study. Larger, well-designed studies to confirm these results are warranted.

Can Ulcerative Colitis Cause Nausea

People may experience mild to severe nausea as a symptom of ulcerative colitis. Changing dietary and eating habits can help manage nausea. There are also medications doctors can recommend to ease feelings of nausea. Alternative therapies, such as medical cannabis, may also help.

In some cases, severe nausea may cause vomiting or loss of appetite, which may lead to malnourishment, fatigue, and weight loss.

In this article, we will look at the link between ulcerative colitis and nausea. We will also list different types of treatment that might help a person manage nausea and other related symptoms.

Ulcerative colitis can cause nausea. People may also experience vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Symptoms can vary between people and can depend on the severity and location of inflammation in the body.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases , people are more likely to experience nausea and vomiting if they have severe ulcerative colitis or if the condition involves more of the large intestine.

However, a stricture may also cause nausea, along with vomiting and constipation. A stricture happens when scar tissue builds up and narrows the intestine, causing a blockage.

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What Causes Ulcerative Colitis Fatigue

People with ulcerative colitis may experience fatigue for a number of reasons, including:

  • Inflammation In some cases, fatigue is caused by the bodys response to inflammation in the colon, says Katkov. Chemical signals produced during inflammation can directly act on the brain to cause tiredness and lack of energy.
  • Poor sleep The aforementioned 2020 study published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases found that sleep disturbances were the strongest predictor of fatigue in IBD patients.
  • Anemia A common complication of ulcerative colitis, anemia can result from blood loss, diarrhea, and malabsorption of certain nutrients. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, IBD patients with anemia do not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry sufficient oxygen to the their body’s tissues, which can make them feel tired and weak.

RELATED: 10 Common Mistakes That Can Make Ulcerative Colitis Worse

Symptoms Of Ulcerative Colitis

What are the common mimics of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease?

Some people with ulcerative colitis have only occasional symptoms. For others, the symptoms are constant. The symptoms a person experiences can vary depending on the severity of the inflammation and where it occurs in the large intestine.

Common symptoms include:

  • diarrhea, often with blood and mucus
  • cramping abdominal pain, especially in the lower abdomen
  • a frequent sensation of needing to have a bowel movement
  • little advance warning before a bowel movement
  • the need to wake from sleep to have bowel movements
  • low red blood cell count

Some people with ulcerative colitis develop pain or soreness in the joints, irritated eyes, and rashes.

The symptoms of ulcerative colitis can suddenly get worse. This is called a flare. Then symptoms may fade away. This is called remission. Some individuals with ulcerative colitis have symptoms only rarely, others have flares and remissions, others have symptoms all or most of the time.

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Headache And Ulcerative Cloitis What Is The Link

Cerebral venous thrombosisHeadache and Ulcerative colitisCase Presentation:

Discussion: Cerebral venous thrombosis is a rare disorder the annual incidence is about 3 to 4 cases per million. It is more common in women than men, with a ratio of 3:1. CVT has been reported as an uncommon and serious complication of UC, with an annual incidence varying between 0.5 to 6.7%. It is suspected to be a consequence of the hypercoagulable state occurring during disease relapse. Thrombophilia is the most common risk factor of CVT. Others include pregnancy, hormonal contraceptive therapy, head trauma and localized infections as sinusitis as well as systemic infections. The clinical presentation is highly variable. Although headache is the main presenting complaint in almost 90% of patients, it remains to be a challenging diagnosis due to its wide range of clinical pictures and different risk factors. Head CT is the most frequently performed study but it has poor sensitivity. Head MRI combined with MR venography is the most sensitive study. Our case raises the awareness among health professionals about the inflammatory bowel diseases as a rare etiology of CVT, and signifies the importance of considering antithrombotic prophylaxis in all hospitalized IBD patients, especially those with active disease.

To cite this abstract:


Abstract published at Hospital Medicine 2017, May 1-4, 2017 Las Vegas, Nev..

Can Ulcerative Colitis Cause Headaches

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Crohns Disease And Ulcerative Colitis

A serious but rare complication of these forms of inflammatory bowel disease is fulminant or toxic colitis, formerly called toxic megacolon.

The signs and symptoms of this condition can include bloody diarrhea along with fever, racing heartbeat , low blood pressure , metabolic acidosis , low urine output , and acute kidney failure.

Toxic colitis is more common with ulcerative colitis than it is with Crohns disease.

Tips For Managing Your Ulcerative Colitis Fatigue


The key to easing fatigue is not to ignore it. Fatigue is a sign that something requires attention, Katkov says. Consider the following steps.

  • Get your ulcerative colitis under control with treatment. Since fatigue is often related to the symptoms and inflammation of ulcerative colitis, its more prevalent when the disease is active. When ulcerative colitis is well controlled, a patient is not expected to have fatigue, Katkov says. Work with your doctor to find the best treatment approach for your condition.
  • Rule out other causes of fatigue. Go through the full list of diagnostic possibilities, Katkov advises. For example, if your ulcerative colitis is in remission and youre still experiencing fatigue, have your healthcare provider run a blood test to check for anemia or vitamin deficiencies. You may also want to ask your doctor whether a medication or a recent stressful situation might be triggering your tiredness. Get to the root of the problem and address it, he adds.
  • Eat your vitamins. Theres no cure-all diet for ulcerative colitis or fatigue, but eating well certainly plays a role in overall health, says Katkov. He suggests that you educate yourself about a healthy, balanced diet, and reach for foods that are rich in essential nutrients but dont aggravate your digestive tract.
  • Additional reporting by Ashley Welch.

    Read Also: What Foods Do You Eat When You Have An Ulcer

    Whats The Difference Between Ulcerative Colitis Vs Crohns Disease

    The list of symptoms for ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease are very similar, including diarrhea, abdominal pain, and rectal bleeding. The biggest difference can be found in the location of the active inflammation. Since Crohns can appear anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, you might see things like inflammation of the small bowel that you wouldnt see with ulcerative colitis. Another difference is that Crohns doesnt stop at the intestine lining. It can actually affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall.6

    Headache And Gastrointestinal Symptoms

    Not all observational studies are restricted to migraine. The HEAD-hunt study, for example, looked at the relationship between GI symptoms and headache, including migraine . The study was a questionnaire-based cross-sectional study among more than 51,000 inhabitants of a county in Norway. The study showed a higher prevalence of headaches among people who regularly experience GI symptoms compared to the control group without GI complaints. The association between headache and GI complaints increased with increasing headache frequency. All the GI complaints were as common among persons with non-migrainous headache as among migraine patients. So both migraine and other types of headaches are more common in people with GI complaints.

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    What Ulcerative Colitis Fatigue Feels Like

    Fatigue is beyond just a passing feeling of being tired, explains Dr. Katkov. People with ulcerative colitis can experience malaise, a profound kind of fatigue that makes it difficult to carry out normal activities, he says.

    Tina Haupert, a nutrition coach living in the South Shore of Massachusetts who was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2011, agrees. Before addressing her UC fatigue with dietary changes and exercise, she pretty much always felt tired.

    According to research by the British organization Crohns and Colitis UK, people with IBD often describe their tiredness with words such as: brain fog, zombie mode, feeling woozy or fuzzy, completely wiped out, and overwhelming heaviness.

    The group also found that IBD fatigue tends to be unpredictable it can come on suddenly, without warning, and vary from day to day. It can also affect memory and concentration, interfere with work, make it harder to exercise and socialize, and take a hefty emotional toll, leading to reduced confidence and depression, they report.

    Experts agree that making sure fatigue doesnt interfere with quality of life, the ability to work, and the capacity to have a normal social life is central to the goal of treating a chronic condition like ulcerative colitis. We dont want to settle for a lower quality of life than what can be achieved with aggressive treatment, Katkov says.

    Ulcerative Colitis And Colorectal Cancer

    Ulcerative Colitis Signs and Symptoms (& Why They Occur), and Complications

    Ulcerative colitis increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer often begins as small growths on the inside of the large intestine. The risk of colorectal cancer increases based on:

    • the length of time a person has had ulcerative colitis
    • how much of the colon is affected by ulcerative colitis

    People with ulcerative colitis should have more frequent tests for polyps and colorectal cancer than people at average risk. The gold standard screening test is a colonoscopy. Polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy. This reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. Ask your doctor how often you should be checked for colorectal cancer.

    Surgery to remove the entire colon eliminates the risk of colon cancer.

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    What Are Ulcerative Colitis Flare

    With treatment , many people with ulcerative colitis will go into remission. That just means that you will have periods of time where your symptoms will be greatly reduced or nonexistent. That could mean weeks, months, or even years for some people, according to the Mayo Clinic. Unfortunately, ulcerative colitis flare-ups can occur. If you start feeling familiar symptoms like increased diarrhea, cramping, or rectal bleeding, let your medical team know.

    Dr. Sinha says that sometimes symptoms can be more subtle during a flare, like bloating or fatigue. As far as triggers go, he says there are clear associations between IBD and stress. In my practice, I treat patients who are also students. Not uncommonly, we see students experiencing flares during exam times or other periods of high stress.

    This is why, he says, its important that we not only consider medical treatments, but also take the overall picture into account, including diet, exercise, and other therapies.

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