What is Colitis Disease and What Causes It

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in Digestion, Inflammation

Wondering what is colitis disease and how it can be treated? Colitis refers to the inflammation of the colon. There are two types — mucus colitis and ulcerative colitis. Both result from prolonged irritation of the delicate membranes that line the walls of the colon.

So, what’s the difference between the two types?

  • Mucus colitis is a relatively common disorder of the colon, also known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, that produces discomfort and irregular bowel habits.
  • Ulcerative colitis is the more painful and troublesome condition, and what will be the focus of this article. This type of disease is known as an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (the other disease of this type is Crohn’s disease). It’s a severe inflammation of the colon that causes ulcers to form on the colon walls. These tiny open sores leak pus and bleed. The end result is the passing of bloody stools containing pus and mucus.

What are the Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis Disease?

Most people find that the colitis starts in the lower part of the colon and spreads upwards. People who suffer from the disease have irregular and erratic contractions in the colon. Symptoms begin with an increased desire to have a bowel movement, followed by cramps in the abdomen. As the disease progresses upwards, stools become more watery and frequent.

The reason for this is that the colon usually stores waste until most of the fluids have been removed, to properly form stools. However, the inflammation brings about contractions, which cause it to be excreted before this takes place.

Some people develop bloating because gas isn’t absorbed or expelled normally. Others suffer from constipation alternating with loose bowel motions, or persistent diarrhea for years.

Those with diarrhea can easily become weak, as food is not digested properly, and blood and fluid are lost from the bowels. Serious cases of ongoing colitis can lead to malnutrition.

What Causes Ulcerative Colitis Disease?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear cut answer to this question. Researchers still don’t know the definitive cause of colitis. Some of the contributing factors are thought to be:

  • Severe stress — during stress, the body’s normal digestive process often changes. This can cause the stomach to empty more slowly or secrete more acids. Stress can also slow down the movement of the food through the intestine. In addition, the outpouring of adrenaline hormones during stress can cause changes in the intestinal lining. So much bodily protein is destroyed that the lining of the intestinal wall is literally eaten away. Such stress also depletes the body of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). Scientists started researching the link between pantothenic acid and ulcerative colitis decades ago.
  • Chronic constipation and laxative use — constipation causes waste to build up, which is never properly eliminated. Ongoing use of laxatives as a cure for chronic constipation irritate the colon.
  • Diet — poorly digested carbohydrates can also cause colon irritation. Food allergies, particularly to milk, wheat, or eggs, will bring about irritation as well.
  • Medication — the use of antibiotics can easily upset the balance of digestive bacteria and interfere with digestion.
  • Hereditary factors — Ulcerative colitis has been proven to run in families. Up to 20% of people who suffer from the disease will also have a relative who suffers from it or Crohn’s disease. However, research is yet to determine a clear cut pattern to the inheritance.

How Can Ulcerative Colitis Be Treated?

The first step in medical treatment for colitis is usually drugs that suppress the inflammatory process. This allows the colon to heal and relieves the symptoms. However, these drugs come with some pretty sever side effects.

Fortunately, there are a number of natural alternatives that can effectively reduce inflammation and help control colitis.

Find out about natural treatment for colitis and three effective supplements that you can take.

Also, learn why it’s important to treat inflammatory bowel disease with nutritional supplements. This article addresses oxidative stress as a factor in ulcerative colitis.

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