Ulcerative Colitis is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease that affects the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. It occurs through continuous stretches of your colon, unlike Crohn’s disease, which occurs anywhere in the digestive tract and often spreads deeply into the affected tissues.
What are the Symptoms?
Ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of inflammation and which parts of the colon are inflamed. Symptoms range from painless bleeding with bowel movements to frequent bloody diarrhea. Painful abdominal cramping, an inability to have a bowel movement, unintended weight loss and fatigue may also be experienced.
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?
A number of factors, such as heredity, a malfunctioning immune system, and imbalances in the “good” and “bad” bacteria that reside in the intestines play a role in the development of ulcerative colitis..
What Complications can Ulcerative Colitis Cause?
- Severe bleeding and dehydration
- Perforated colon
- Inflammation of your skin, joints and eyes
- Increased risk of colon cancer
How is Ulcerative Colitis Treated?
When treating ulcerative colitis, the goal is to reduce the inflammation that triggers your signs and symptoms. Treatment should improve long-term health by limiting complications.
Integrative medical therapies can play a supportive role in improving your symptoms and quality of life. Integrative medical treatment of ulcerative colitis involves dietary modifications, stress management, acupuncture, nutritional supplements, specific therapeutic probiotics, and standardized herbal medicines. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, integrative medical therapies are used on their own, or in combination with prescription drugs.
How Can Nutrition Help Ulcerative Colitis?
Specific dietary recommendations can help reduce ulcerative colitis symptoms and aid healing of the intestines. Conversely, certain foods can aggravate colitis symptoms, especially during a flare-up. Nutritional counseling is also very important for people who have lost an unhealthy amount of weight due to colitis or have nutrient deficiencies.
In addition, nutritional supplements may be necessary, such as: omega-3, multivitamins, iron, calcium and vitamin D, among others.
What Lifestyle Changes Help Ulcerative Colitis?
Lifestyle Changes such as reducing/avoiding alcohol and coffee and getting adequate sleep each night and exercise are important for people with ulcerative colitis.