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Ulcerative Colitis

What is it?

Ulcerative colitis is characterized by inflammation and ulceration of the colon mucosa, resulting in bleeding, diarrhea, and pain.

It is generally chronic and recurs, with repeated remissions and exacerbations. First onset may be abrupt, but generally a more insidious chronic problem will follow.

Family history may contribute to the onset of ulcerative colitis, though a combination of genetic and environmental factors is likely the cause.

Patients generally report that the disorder is exacerbated during times of stress. It is important to understand, however, that this does not mean the disease is psychosomatic. Ulcerative colitis may result from the body’s inability to down-regulate inflammation in response to a trigger.

Key Points:

  • Occurs among all age groups, but peak incidence occurs in the 2nd and 3rd decades
  • Approximately three times more common than Crohn’s Disease
  • 20% of patients first manifest symptoms before the age of 20
  • Bloody diarrhea is the hallmark feature, often associated with lower abdominal cramps and pain on defecation
  • Symptoms of bowel urgency and frequency are generally the most disabling
  • Colonoscopy is the key to diagnosis
  • The rectum is always involved, and extension usually moves up the bowels without skipping any areas

How do we treat it?

In ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune condition, the body attacks itself at one of its primary barriers, the intestinal mucosa. The lining of the GI tract becomes the target of an immune reaction. Functionally, this layer of cells provides a border between the inside and the outside world-determining what gets in and what stays out.

Ulceration of this lining indicates that the body is attempting to poke holes in that boundary-allowing a more liberal interaction between the two separate environments.

During your course of treatment, it will be important to establish why this might be occurring.

Do we need to fortify your barriers-physical and mental? Is there something that the body is trying to eliminate by poking holes in your tissue?

We will assist your body in tempering its inflammatory response and resolve these underlying reasons why this condition often develops.

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