Many patients suffering from ulcerative colitis have been observed to have abnormalities of the immune system. However, it is not known if these abnormalities are a cause or are a result of this type of irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease. Many doctors opine that in case of ulcerative colitis the immune system reacts abnormally to bacteria present in the digestive tract leading to an inflammatory and ulcerative condition.
Inflammation in case of ulcerative colitis resulting from an abnormally functioning immune system leads to the formation of sores called as ulcers in the inner lining of the colon and rectum. These ulcers form in areas where the epithelial cells lining the colon and rectum have been lysed due to inflammation. These dead cells then bleed and produce pus that in turn leads to an infectious condition. Inflammation also increases the urge to clear the large intestines thus causing bleeding diarrhea.
Since inflammation is a major cause for ulceration in ulcerative colitis, the disease is also termed as inflammatory bowel syndrome. If the inflammation occurs deeper within the walls of the intestines and also occurs in other parts of the digestive tract including mouth, esophagus, stomach and small intestines then the same condition is termed as Crohn's disease.
As a result of inflammation, patients might also suffer from other inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, eye inflammation, liver diseases and osteoporosis. Although the exact reason as to why symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome occur outside the colon is not known, it is postulated that inflammation caused by the immune system might be the predominant reason.
Other causes of ulcerative colitis have been outlined as stressful lifestyles, emotional problems and allergies to certain types of foods. These three are also known to lead to inflammatory conditions. No wonder then that people suffering from any one, two or all three of these are more prone to suffer from Crohn's disease.
In consonance with the fact that ulcerative colitis appears to be caused by inflammatory reactions, its treatment also involves the use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids and immunomodulators. Being a systemic problem involving the immune system rather than just the colon, there is also a chance for contracting cancer if it is left untreated. Therefore, timely treatment of irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease is mandatory not only to relieve oneself of its unbearable symptoms but also to overcome the risk of suffering from cancer.
Thus, those suffering from ulcerative colitis might also have immune system abnormalities that in fact might cause the inflammatory condition.