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About Ulcerative Colitis

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease which causes inflammation and ulceration of inner lining of the colon and rectum. The inflammation usually begins in the rectum and sigmoid colon and spread upward to the entire colon. Ulcerative colitis rarely affects the small intestine. It occurs at the rate of approximately five cases per 100,000 people. The disease pattern is one of the remission and exacerbation. It can occur at any age but its onset is most common among people between ages of 15 – 40. Ulcerative colitis affects male and females equally and appears to run in some families which means Ulcerative Colitis can be genetic.

What are symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis ?

The exact cause of Ulcerative Colitis is not known. Factors that have all been suggested are:

  • Autoimmune factors
  • Food allergies
  • Collagen disorders
  • Genetic factors
  • Infection and
    Psychogenesis

One or some combination of these factors thought to trigger the inflammatory process. The theory of the involvement of the immune mechanism has been widely accepted because of concept that therapeutic agents like Corticosteroids and Azothiaprine exert their effect via the immuno suppressive mechanism.

The psychological factors of feelings like anger and anxiety of the degree of depression experienced by a sufferer are also important in modifying the course of the disease.

How Ulcerative Colitis affects the intestines?

In Ulcerative Colitis, inflammation is triggered by some unknown elements. Hyperemia and swelling occur as part of the vascular response. The swollen, engorged bowel is fragile and is therefore inclined to ulcerate, thus creating a break in the mucosal barrier. Digestive enzymes and intestinal bacteria act upon this exposed tissue, causing further irritation, inflammation, ulceration and bleeding.

What are the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis are:

  • Frequent loose stools with passage of blood and mucous
  • Patient may complain of abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of weight
  • Loss of body fluids and nutrients
  • Some patients also have skin lesions
  • Joint pain
  • Inflammation of eyes and
  • Liver disorders

How to diagnose Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis diagnosis is done after carefully taking the history and physical examination of the patients, then the patients are subjected to sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy examination. The rectum and colon are seen through a flexible optical / camera tube which is inserted through anus. During this examination a sample of tissue from the lining of the colon is taken to observe under a microscope. This is called a histopathology examination. A barium enema is helpful in determining the nature and the extent of the disease in patients.

Risk of Colon Cancer

There is strong correlation between Ulcerative Colitis and Colorectal cancer. The risk of colon cancer begins to increase after someone has had Ulcerative Colitis for approximately ten years or whose entire colon is affected. The risk increases by ten percent for each decade it is suffered. However if only the rectum and lower colon is involved, the risk of cancer is not high. Someone who has had diagnose of Ulcerative Colitis for longer than five to ten years should undergo a complete colonoscopy at least every two years. The key to cancer therapy is early detection and early treatment.

The Ayurveda view

Saint Sushruta mentioned in Sushruta Samhita about 3000 years ago that Pitta type people are more prone to Ulcerative Colitis (Rakata Atisaar).