- Signs & Symptoms
- Potential Causes
- Serious Complications
- Treatment Options
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in which abnormal reactions of the immune system cause inflammation and ulcers on the inner lining of the large intestine (colon and rectum). IBD includes conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), with UC and Crohn’s disease as the two most common types.
Although UC can occur at any age, it is generally more likely to develop in people between 15 and 30 years of age. Though the exact cause of UC is unknown, studies have suggested that these factors play a role in developing the condition:
- Abnormal immune response and gut microbiome (bacteria, viruses, and fungi that help with digestion)
- Environmental factors, including diet
What is pancolitis?
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is classified into various types depending on the part of the colon involved. When the entire large intestine is inflamed, it is called pancolitis (pan: entire; colitis: inflammation of the colon).
Although commonly associated with UC, other causes of pancolitis are as follows:
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- Infections such as Clostridium difficile colitis
Other types of UC are as follows:
- Proctitis: Inflammation limited to the rectum
- Proctosigmoiditis: Inflammation in the rectum and sigmoid colon
- Left-sided colitis: When inflammation stretches from the rectum to the portion of the colon on the left side of your body
What are the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis and pancolitis?
Because pancolitis is a type of ulcerative colitis (UC), symptoms, complications, and treatment of both are generally the same.
Signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis and pancolitis may include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal cramps
- Increased frequency of bowel movement
- Bloody stools or pus in stools
- Diarrhea that does not respond to the usual medication
- Weight loss
- Tenesmus (urge to pass stool despite empty bowel)
- Inflammation of other body parts -- eyes, skin, etc.
What are the causes of ulcerative colitis and pancolitis?
Although the exact causes of ulcerative colitis (UC) and pancolitis are unknown, the following risk factors and triggers are probably involved in aggravating the diseases:
- Positive family history
- Age (Although it may be seen in any age group, it commonly develops before 30 years of age)
- Ethnicity (more common in Caucasians than in other ethnic populations)
- Stressful life
- An unhealthy diet rich in fatty and spicy foods
- Autoimmune diseases
What are the serious complications of ulcerative colitis and pancolitis?
Ulcerative colitis (UC) and pancolitis can carry the following serious complications:
- Severe blood loss due to bleeding from ulcers
- Higher risk of blood clots
- Perforation in the colon
- Increased risk of colon cancer
- Bone loss
- Toxic megacolon (rapidly swelling)
- Inflammation in other parts of the body (commonly eyes, joints and skin)
What is the treatment of ulcerative colitis and pancolitis?
Ulcerative colitis (UC) and pancolitis are mainly managed with medications or surgery, which could include the following:
- Doctors give anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids and 5-aminosalicylates to reduce bowel inflammation.
- Immunosuppressants can be given to reduce autoantibodies harming the gut wall.
- Doctors may give biologics, which are drugs that target the inflammation-causing proteins.
- They may recommend symptomatic management such as medications for diarrhea, cramps, and anemia.
- Doctors surgically remove the severely inflamed regions of the colon in a surgery called colectomy.
The following lifestyle changes are needed to reduce the severity of disease progression:
- Stress management
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Limiting dairy products
- Avoiding alcohol and carbonated beverages
- Eating small meals
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