Friday, June 14, 2013

Colitis Explained

There are a diverse range of diseases that affect various areas of the digestive tract. Many of these conditions, grouped in the category of irritable bowel disease (IBD), are indistinguishable from other similar diseases like Crohn's Disease and Irritable Bowl Syndrome, thus, diagnosis is often a complicated and you must adopt a trial-and-error approach.

Colitis is a disease that results in the inflammation of the lining of the large intestine, or colon. Researchers have estimated that as many as two million people in the United States may suffer from colitis, many of them undiagnosed. The majority of cases manifest rather early in life - before the age of thirty - although it is not uncommon for people of any age to develop the disease. Research on colitis has revealed that prevalence is not affected by gender.

The disease can either be acute or chronic and results in ulcers being formed in the upper membrane layers of the colon. Colitis, like other forms of IBD, wreaks havoc on the digestive tract. When the colon becomes inflamed many of the cells die and this tissue death spurs the production of ulcers. Ulcers may bleed and generate pus leading to severe abdominal cramping, diarrhea, painful abdominal sensations, reduced appetite, infections, fatigue, weight loss, and fever.

As is the case with other forms of IBD, the causes of colitis are shrouded in mystery. There are a number of competing theories as to the cause, but none have been proven as of yet. Since colitis is believed to be spurred through inflammation, many scientists point to infection as the leading cause. There is also some evidence that genetics and family connection plays a part. There is also research into colitis as potentially being related to an autoimmune response by the body. It appears that colitis may be triggered by the body attacking itself. Various bacterial, viral, and protozoan infections have also been bandied about as possible triggers of colitis. According to research, smokers are twice as likely to develop colitis then are non-smokers.

If left untreated, colitis can lead to severe medical problems. As stated previously, the diagnosis of colitis can be tricky since many forms of IBD may appear similar upon cursory examination. It can take some time to achieve an accurate diagnosis. Fortunately, even though the causes of colitis are not fully understood, there are treatments available for the disease. Treatment often varies due to the severity of the flare up. Colitis, like other forms of IBD, is usually treated via prescription drugs. In advanced cases, surgery to remove the colon may be required, and as of this time is the only cure.

It is important to remember that colitis is a disease that will affect each person differently. There is no standard procedure that can be followed for every case. Furthermore, the psychological ramifications from the disease cannot be ignored. Many people experience depression due to the impact of physical symptoms on quality of life. If you are suffering from colitis it is important to schedule regular medical visits to monitor the disease.

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