Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease. It is considered a serious ailment and requires medical attention.
Ulcerative colitis is an ailment that causes inflammation in the bowels. The word "colitis" refers to inflammation (-itis, as in dermatitis, hepatitis) of the colon (col-). It is characterized by ulcers and open sores in the colon. More than a quarter million people in America are affected by it. While it is a form of inflammatory bowel disease, it is not to be confused with irritable bowel syndrome which is also a bowel related ailment but is not serious in nature. Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic ailment characterized by bowel pain, irregular bowel movements, discomfort and bloating.
Ulcerative colitis is very similar to Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease can affect any part of the digestive system from mouth to anus. The causes for ulcerative colitis can be attributed to many factors like genetic factors, diet and food habits, environment and some also classify it as an autoimmune disease - that is, the body's immune system turns against the body itself.
There are many treatments for ulcerative colitis that depend on the extent and severity. While irritable bowel syndrome can be treated rather swiftly by a few simple drugs, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease require serious medical attention. Chemotherapy is used more commonly than any other form of treatment and is used in more than 70% of the cases. It involves an initial drug course to initiate the cure, followed by maintenance drugs. A class of drugs known as aminosalicylates is used. Aminosalicylates include mesalazine, sulfasalazine, balsalazide, olsalazine and dipentum - although sulfasalazine has been known to cause side effects like nausea; vomiting; reduced sperm count; damage to blood cells, liver, kidneys, pancreas, nerves and hearing.
Corticosteroids are also used. Corticosteroids include cortisone, prednisone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone and budesonide. Apart from these, immunosuppressive drugs and TNF inhibitors are also used. Also, some new drugs like Methotrexate, hepagrin and anti-integrin anti-bodies are being tested with varying degrees of success. Sometimes, surgery is also recommended for ulcerative colitis treatment. Besides there are many alternative treatments for this and nearly a fifth of the cases rely on these alternative treatments like dietary control, consumption of certain fats and oils, herbal medicine and bacterial recolonization.