What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic disease that causes sores and inflammation, called ulcers, in the lining of the large intestines, specifically the rectum and colon. It is not the same thing as Crohn’s Disease, but both are known as inflammatory bowel diseases. It tends to run in families.
Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis:
UC can come about at any age, but symptoms usually start between the ages of 15 and 30 or those over 60. Ulcerative colitis commonly begins gradually and can become worse over time. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and half of people with UC experience mild symptoms. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain.
- Pus or blood in the diarrhea.
- Weight loss.
- Nausea or loss of appetite.
- Joint pain or soreness, eye irritation, rashes (less common).
Causes of Ulcerative Colitis:
The exact cause is unknown; however, researchers believe the following factors may have a hand in causing ulcerative colitis:Overactive intestinal immune system
One cause may be an abnormal immune reaction in the intestines. Bacteria or viruses may mistakenly trigger the immune system to attack the inner lining of the large intestines, causing inflammation and other symptoms.Genetics
Ulcerative colitis appears to run in families. Those with UC may have certain abnormal genes, but the link between the two isn’t completely clear.Environmental Factors
Some studies suggest certain environmental factors, such as consuming NSAID drugs, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and a high-fat diet may increase the chance of developing UC. Many people believe certain foods or stressors can cause or retrigger UC symptoms as well. However, the evidence linking environmental factors and UC is low and more research is needed.