Ulcerative Colitis Causes And Risk Factors
Ulcerative colitis happens when your immune system makes a mistake. Normally, it attacks invaders in your body, like the common cold. But when you have UC, your immune system thinks food, good gut bacteria, and the cells that line your colon are the intruders. White blood cells that usually protect you attack the lining of your colon instead. They cause the inflammation and ulcers.
Doctors arent sure why people get the condition. Your genes may play a role the disease sometimes runs in families. Other things in the world around you may make a difference, too.
Things that can affect your risk of getting ulcerative colitis include:
- Age. Its most likely if youre between 15 and 30 years old or older than 60.
- Ethnicity. The risk is highest in people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
- Family history. Your risk could be up to 30% higher if you have a close relative with the condition.
Food and stress dont cause it, but they can trigger a flare of symptoms.
Ulcerative Colitis And Cancer Of The Colon
The chance of developing cancer of the large intestine is higher than average in people who have had ulcerative colitis for several years or more. It is more of a risk if you have frequent flare-ups affecting the whole of the large intestine. For example, about 1 in 10 people who have ulcerative colitis for 20 years which affects much of their large intestine will develop cancer.
Because of this risk, people with ulcerative colitis are usually advised to have their large intestine routinely checked after having had the condition for about 10 years. This involves a look into the large intestine by a flexible telescope every now and then and taking small samples of bowel for examination. It is usually combined with chromoscopy – this is the use of dye spray which shows up suspicious changes more easily. Depending on the findings of this test and on other factors, you will be put into a low, intermediate or high risk category. ‘Other factors’ include:
- The amount of intestine affected.
- Whether you have had complications such as polyps. These are small, non-cancerous growths on the inside lining of the colon or rectum.
- Whether you have a family history of cancer.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends the next colonoscopy/chromoscopy should depend on the degree of risk of developing colon or rectal cancer. After the next test, your risk will be calculated again.
Types Of Ulcerative Colitis
The type of ulcerative colitis you have depends on where it is in your body:
- Ulcerative proctitis is usually the mildest form. Its only in the rectum, the part of your colon closest to your anus. Rectal bleeding may be the only sign of the disease.
- Proctosigmoiditis happens in your rectum and the lower end of your colon . Youll have bloody diarrhea, belly cramps, and pain. Youll have the urge to poop, but you wont be able to.
- Left-sided colitis causes cramps on that side of your belly. Youll also have bloody diarrhea, and you might lose weight without trying. Youll have inflammation from your rectum up through the left side of your colon.
- Pancolitis often affects your entire colon. It can cause severe bouts of bloody diarrhea, belly cramps, pain, fatigue, and major weight loss.
- Acute severe ulcerative colitis is rare. It affects your entire colon and causes severe pain, heavy diarrhea, bleeding, and fever.
Also Check: How Do You Heal An Ulcer
How Does Pediatric Ulcerative Colitis Affect My Childs Mental/emotional Health
Like many conditions, ulcerative colitis can have a negative psychological effect, especially on children. They can experience physical, emotional, social and family problems. Because of the medications and/or general stress from the situation, your child may experience:
- Mood swings.
- Worry about appearance and physical stamina.
- Vulnerability because their body doesnt function normally.
- Poor concentration.
- Misunderstandings with friends and family.
Children need mutual support from all family members. Its helpful for the entire family to learn about the disease and try to be empathetic. Seek out a psychiatrist and therapist to help your child manage such challenges of their ulcerative colitis.
Should You Take A Vitamin B12 Supplement
Vitamin B12 helps keep your bodys nerve and blood cells healthy while working to prevent certain types of anemia. Although deficiencies are more common in patients with Crohns disease, it can affect people with UC, too, Javelli says. B12 is absorbed in an area of the small intestines called the distal ileum, says Dr. Yen. This type of deficiency is common in people who have had surgery on this area of their gut, making it hard for the body to absorb the nutrient.
Food Supplements For Ulcerative Colitis
A well-balanced diet is your first step to guard against malnutrition. You need to eat a variety of things from different food groups and make sure you get enough protein and calories. Work with a dietitian who can help you plan meals that meet your nutrition needs.
Even with a well-designed meal plan, you may still need some of these supplements:
A good source of vitamin D is dairy foods, but a lot of people with UC cut back on dairy to help them curb symptoms of diarrhea.
Experts have different views on vitamin D supplements, so ask your doctor if its a good idea for you to take them.
Calcium. Its a mineral your body uses to build bones, help your muscles contract, and send messages through your nervous system.
If your system doesnt have enough calcium, your body removes it from the bones, which causes them to become brittle and leads to a bone-weakening disease called osteoporosis.
If you avoid calcium-rich dairy products or need certain kinds of medicines, you could be at risk for low levels of calcium. If your doctor recommends a calcium supplement, youll probably need 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams a day.
How Does Ulcerative Colitis Progress
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, relapsing condition. Chronic means that it is persistent and ongoing. Relapsing means that there are times when symptoms flare up and times when there are few or no symptoms . The severity of symptoms and how frequently they occur vary from person to person. The first flare-up of symptoms is often the worst.
It starts in the rectum in most cases. This causes a proctitis, which means inflammation of the rectum. In some cases it only affects the rectum and the colon is not affected. In others, the disease spreads up to affect some, or all, of the colon. Between flare-ups the inflamed areas of colon and rectum heal and symptoms go away. The severity of a flare-up can be classed as mild, moderate or severe:
- Mild – you have fewer than four stools daily and only have small amounts of blood in your stools. You do not feel generally unwell .
- Moderate – you have four to six stools a day, have some blood in your stools but do not feel generally unwell in yourself .
- Severe – you have more than six stools a day and have blood in your stools. You also feel generally unwell with more marked systemic disturbance with things such as high temperature , a fast pulse rate, anaemia, etc.
Don’t Miss: Humira For Ulcerative Colitis Reviews
Treatment Of Ulcerative Colitis
Current therapies to treat patients with ulcerative colitis include aminosalicylates , steroids, immune suppressants, and biologic therapy . For some of these drugs, treatments are available in pill form, suppositories, enemas, injections under the skin, and intravenous infusions. Although medical treatment can be effective in controlling the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, patients must take medications continuously to prevent the symptoms from returning.
Although some patients require a ileostomy after colectomy, another surgical procedure can be performed in many patients later to reverse the ostomy called a restorative proctocolectomy or J pouch. This procedure allows patients to have bowel movements without an ostomy.
There have been many advances in surgery for ulcerative colitis. The most significant are development of restorative proctocolectomy and use of minimally invasive surgery .
Sharna Burgess Is Having A Baby Boy With Brian Austin Green
Brian Austin Green was bedridden for six weeks with ulcerative colitis.
The Beverly Hills, 90210 star revealed the recent illness in a new video explaining his disappearance from Instagram.
I had for about six, six and a half weeks, which wasnt very fun, the father of three said before giving a shoutout to his pregnant girlfriend Sharna Burgess.
Sharna was amazing. Six, seven months pregnant, taking care of my three young kids because I was pretty bedridden for a while, he continued.
Taking care of me, not complaining, being amazing.
Green, who shares sons Noah, 9, Bodhi, 8, and Journey, 5, with ex-wife Megan Fox, was suffering from a chronic inflammatory bowel disease.
According to the Mayo Clinic, ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulcers in your digestive tract and while symptoms can range in severity, they include diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, rectal pain and bleeding and weight loss.
The Dancing With the Stars pro commented, Baby this was beautiful and unexpected. I love you, and Ive got you. You and the kids, always.
Burgess, 36, previously told fans she doesnt compare herself to Fox, calling the actress her own self and an amazing woman during an Instagram Q& A on Monday.
Normally I wouldnt answer these types of questions but I think many women struggle with comparing themselves to a partners or to other women in general, she wrote on Instagram last month.
Also Check: Can Ulcerative Colitis Go Into Remission
Blood Tests Provide The Bottom Line
Dont guess when it comes to your nutrition. Get a complete blood count test done at least once a year, including testing your iron and ferritin levels . Your lab work will also reveal info about vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin B12 levels. If youre low in any of these or other nutrients, your doctor may suggest taking a supplement. Whatever your course of action, follow up with additional lab work in a few months to see if your deficiency has been corrected, says Javelli.
Can I Get Surgery For My Ulcerative Colitis
Surgery is an option if medications arent working or you have complications, such as bleeding or abnormal growths. You might develop precancerous lesions, or growths that can turn into colorectal cancer. A doctor can remove these lesions with surgery or during a colonoscopy.
Research shows that about 30% of people with ulcerative colitis need surgery sometime during their life. About 20% of children with ulcerative colitis will need surgery during their childhood years.
There are two kinds of surgery for ulcerative colitis:
Proctocolectomy and ileoanal pouch
The proctocolectomy and ileoanal pouch is the most common procedure for ulcerative colitis. This procedure typically requires more than one surgery, and there are several ways to do it. First, your surgeon does a proctocolectomy a procedure that removes your colon and rectum. Then the surgeon forms an ileoanal pouch to create a new rectum. While your body and newly made pouch is healing, your surgeon may perform a temporary ileostomy at the same time. This creates an opening in your lower belly. Your small intestines attach to the stoma, which looks like a small piece of pink skin on your belly.
After you heal, waste from your small intestines comes out through the stoma and into an attached bag called an ostomy bag. The small bag lies flat on the outside of your body, below your beltline. Youll need to wear the bag at all times to collect waste. Youll have to change the bag frequently throughout the day.
Recommended Reading: Best Medicine For Ulcerative Colitis
Surgery For Ulcerative Colitis
Some people get surgery to remove part or all of the colon. Your doctor may suggest this if your medicine isn’t working, your symptoms get worse, or your ulcerative colitis leads to serious complications.
When you have an operation to remove your entire colon, the surgeon most often creates an opening, or stoma, in your belly wall. They attach a bag there and bring the tip of your lower small intestine through the opening. Waste passes through it and collects in a pouch, which gets attached to the stoma. You’d need to wear the pouch all the time.
A newer surgery, called a pelvic pouch or ileal pouch anal anastomosis , doesn’t create a permanent opening. Instead, a surgeon removes your colon and rectum, and your small intestine is used to form an internal pouch or reservoir that serves as a new rectum. This pouch is connected to the anus.
A procedure called a continent ileostomy is done if you want your external pouch converted to an internal one, or if you can’t get the IPAA operation.
In this procedure, there is a stoma but no bag. Your surgeon removes your colon and rectum and creates an internal reservoir from your small intestine. They make an opening in your belly wall and join the reservoir to your skin with a nipple valve. To drain the pouch, you insert a catheter through the valve into the internal reservoir.
How Is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed
To diagnose ulcerative colitis in children, teenagers and adults, your healthcare provider has to rule out other illnesses. After a physical exam, your provider may order:
- Blood tests: Your blood can show signs of infection or anemia. Anemia is a low level of iron in your blood. It can mean you have bleeding in the colon or rectum.
- Stool samples: Signs of infection, parasites , and inflammation can show up in your poop.
- Imaging tests: Your healthcare provider may need a picture of your colon and rectum. You may have tests including a magnetic resonance imaging scan or computed tomography scan.
- Endoscopic tests: An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera. Specialized doctors can slide the endoscope in through the anus to check the health of the rectum and colon. Common endoscopic tests include colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy.
Also Check: Wound Treatment For Diabetic Foot Ulcers
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis Flareups
When youre in remission from ulcerative colitis, youll want to do everything you can to prevent a flareup. Things that may cause a flareup include:
- Emotional stress: Get at least seven hours of sleep a night, exercise regularly and find healthy ways to relieve stress, such as meditation.
- NSAID use: For pain relief or a fever, use acetaminophen instead of NSAIDs like Motrin® and Advil®.
- Antibiotics: Let your healthcare provider know if antibiotics trigger your symptoms.
Also Check: What Does A Skin Ulcer Look Like
Complementary Treatments And Therapies
You may consider these approaches in addition to what your doctor prescribes. But itâs important to talk to your medical team about any and all of them because some, like supplements, can interfere with treatments from your doctor. Letâs take a look at a few:
Mind-body therapies:Stress and anxiety are well-known triggers for many people with ulcerative colitis, so it is not surprising that mind-body relaxation techniques could help. These techniques help nurture a healthy connection between your mind and body as well as between you and the outside world. In some cases, they encourage behavior changes in your everyday life. They may be worthwhile if only to lessen anxiety and depression linked to UC and improve quality of life. In addition, there is some evidence that yoga, meditation, and gut-centered hypnotherapy could help with some physical symptoms or flare-ups of UC. Some of the techniques, like cognitive behavioral therapy and patient support groups, have been so successful that they have slowly become a part of mainstream treatment for IBD.
Keep in mind that the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, so claims on packaging may not be accurate. Thatâs yet another reason why itâs important to talk to your doctor before you start taking any supplements for your UC.
Also Check: New Meds For Ulcerative Colitis
Talk With Others Who Understand
MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam is the social network for people with ulcerative colitis and their loved ones. On MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam, more than 138,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with ulcerative colitis.
Are you living with ulcerative colitis pain? What has helped you to manage it? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.
What Is The Outlook
With modern medical and surgical treatment, there is just a slight increase in the risk of death in the first two years after diagnosis, compared with the general population. After this there is little difference in life expectancy from that of the general population. However, a severe flare-up of ulcerative colitis is still a potentially life-threatening illness and needs expert medical attention.
As mentioned, if you do not take medication to prevent flare-ups, about half of people with ulcerative colitis have a relapse on average once a year. This is much reduced by taking regular medication. However, even in those who take regular medication, some people have frequent flare-ups and about a quarter of people with ulcerative colitis eventually have an operation to remove their colon.
A year from diagnosis, about 9 in 10 people with ulcerative colitis are fully capable of work. So, this means that, in the majority of cases, with the help of treatment, the disease is manageable enough to maintain a near-normal life. However, the condition can cause significant employment problems for a minority.
Treatment for ulcerative colitis is an evolving field. Various new medicines are under investigation. These may change the treatment options over the next ten years or so and improve the outlook .
Don’t Miss: Over The Counter Ulcer Treatment For Horses