What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a colon or large intestine disorder where it causes inflammation, irritation, and ulcers in the lining of large intestine. There are various types of UC where certain parts of their colon are affected, as depicted in the figure below.
What is the cause and risk factors of Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis can be classified as autoimmune disorder. Our body’s immune system malfunctioned and attacked our own colon cells, good gut bacteria, and food thinking they are pathogens, which causes inflammation, irritation, and ulcers.
Researchers found that one of the risk factor for UC could be:
- Age (would develop between 15-30 years old and 60 and older)
- Genetic (up to 30% if one of your close relatives has UC)
- Diets that are :
- High in protein and/or meat
- High saturated fat and trans fat
- High in omega-6 oil
- High sodium
- Low fiber
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of UC are bloody diarrhea, pus found in stool however but not limited to:
- Cramping belly pain (stomachache)
- Sudden urges to poop, especially after food
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Feeling tired
- Joint pain/ soreness
- Oral ulcer
- Eye pain
- Skin sores
- Pressure of not completely defecated even after defecating
- Fecal incontinence
- Pain during bowel movement (digestion)
What is the difference between Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and Irritable Bowel?
These diseases and disorders may have similar and overlapping symptoms. However, the mechanism may be different.
- Ulcerative Colitis : Only affects your large intestine and it’s lining
- Crohn’s Disease : Inflammation affects the whole gastrointestinal tract (mouth to anus)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome : Not inflammation or ulcer related, but intestinal muscle spasm
How to manage ulcerative colitis?
The main goal for ulcerative colitis management is to reduce symptoms to feel better by giving it a chance to heal, and to prevent more flare-ups. Combination of diet and medication or surgery can help in reaching that goal.
The management methods are:
- Ulcerative Colitis Nutrition Therapy
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (aminosalicylates or corticosteroids)
- Antidiarrheal drugs
- Colectomy or proctocolectomy
Recent researches found that probiotics are able to help in reducing the symptoms of UC and improve overall quality of life; reduced frequency of diarrhea, less vigorous abdominal pain, and improved appetite. Hence, having synbiotic therapy may be beneficial on top of conventional treatment and medications. Consult your physician before starting probiotic supplements.