Ulcerative colitis



Along with crohn, ulcerative colitis is another major type of inflammatory bowel disease. However   unlike crohn, ulcerative colitis affects only the large intestine where it causes a long-term condition of
inflammation and ulcers. The large intestine which is the second section of the alimentary canal is made up of five parts which are:
   Ø    Cecum(beginning part  of the long intestine)
   Ø     Appendix
   Ø    Colon: This is the main section of the long intestine. It is subdivided into ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon and sigmoid colon.
   Ø     Rectum
   Ø     Anus
The symptoms build up over time and can have a debilitating effect which has significant impact on the quality of life. Symptoms may differ depending on the severity of the disease. They include the following:
  • ·         Rectal bleeding
  • ·         Diarrhoea which may contain pus or blood.
  • ·         Weight loss
  • ·         Fatigue
  • ·         Inability to defecate despite urgency
  • ·         Abdominal pain
Ulcerative colitis that affects the rectum and some parts of the colon could display more severe symptoms while those with inflammation limited to the rectum is called ulcerative proctitis.
Previously thought to be caused by diet and stress, ulcerative colitis has been found to be as a result of immune system dysfunction. Experts believe that ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune condition that arises when the immune system mistakenly attack the healthy tissues of the colon. Even though it may happen to anybody at any time whether male or female, several factors such as being white or having a Jewish or Ashkenazi descent or having a family history of ulcerative colitis may increase the risk of having ulcerative colitis.
If left untreated, ulcerative colitis could result in severe bleeding, perforated colon, bowel cancer and toxic megacolon (a situation where gas that is trapped in the colon causes the colon to enlarge and burst. This can result in the infection of the blood). Treatment includes surgery, use of immune system suppressors, anti-inflammatory drugs and other drugs such as pain relievers, antibiotics and iron supplements (for those with chronic intestinal bleeding). The risk of complications can be reduced by maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular exercises and eating healthy foods.

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi
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