Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis?
Are you unfamiliar with what this means and what to find out more?
Do you want to know about specific causes or signs and symptoms of the disease?
A medical diagnosis can often be quite confusing, especially if it is something that you are not familiar with. If you are wondering about ulcerative colitis and what it could actually mean, and how it can get better, we can give you the required information that could help.
Today we are taking a look at this condition and seeing whether or not it is possible to spot the symptoms, and also, how it can be treated. We also take a look at some of the tests that may help to diagnose it at the right time, or may help with treatment. We will also take a look at whether it is possible to get better with a plant based diet, and if it is something you should go for.
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Can a plant based diet *HELP CURE* ulcerative colitis?
Studies have shown that a plant based diet may help to manage the symptoms better.
- There is no permanent relief from ulcerative colitis, but having a plant based diet can help avoid a relapse.
- A study revealed that eating a plant based diet on a regular basis can manage symptoms from ulcerative colitis, such as reduced blood in stool.
- Some people are also of the opinion that eating a vegan or plant based diet may help to better manage or even cure ulcerative colitis, because they aid the good bacteria in the gut to work better, and cancel out the negative effects.
- In fact, people who have suffered from ulcerative colitis say that shifting to a plant based diet has helped them to a great extent.
How can you prolong these positive effects?
While prescribed medication and the right diet can play a big role in managing your ulcerative colitis, you can prolong the positive effects by quitting alcohol and smoking, reducing stress, exercising regularly and maintaining your doctor appointments.
*WHAT* is ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a type of autoimmune disease in which your large intestine, or the colon, gets affected.
- It is part of a group of diseases known as inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD.
- This condition can cause irritation as well as swelling in the large intestine, which is known as inflammation.
- In case a person suffers from inflammation due to ulcerative colitis, they may also cause sores, known as ulcers, in the lining of the large intestine.
- In some case, it may also cause redness and swelling in the rectum.
- For most parts, the inflammation first begins in the rectum area and in the lower intestine, and then gradually moves upwards towards the colon.
- While usually it does not affect the small intestine, in some cases, it may affect the lower area of the small intestine, which is known as the ileum.
What *CAUSES* ulcerative colitis?
There is no definite cause yet known for ulcerative colitis.
- It is possible that sometimes, a virus or bacteria affects your immune system, which weakens your body’s ability to fight off infection.
- In this case, the immune system creates an abnormal swelling and redness in the walls of the intestine, which do not go away.
- It is also possible that in some cases, ulcerative colitis is a genetic problem. Having a family history of ulcerative colitis, where a parent or sibling suffer from something similar, could also increase the risk of suffering from ulcerative colitis.
- Also, if you have an overactive immune system, it may try to protect your body from any type of infection by destroying the germs it feels are harmful. In the case of ulcerative colitis, the immune system not only destroys the germs, but also starts to attack the lining of the large intestine.
What are the *SIGNS & SYMPTOMS* that indicate you might have it?
The signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis can differ from person to person. While some people may feel the symptoms occasionally, others may feel them more often and on a regular basis.
Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms that you may notice if you do have ulcerative colitis:
The most common signs and symptoms are:
- Pain in the stomach
- Diarrhoea and blood in the stool
- Bleeding in the rectal area
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling extremely tired and fatigued
- Anaemia or loss of blood that can be caused by excessive or severe bleeding
- Loss of nutrients and fluids from the body
Some less common symptoms are:
- Sores on the skin
- Redness and swelling or inflammation around the eye
- Pain in the joints
- Liver disorders
- Kidney stones
- Osteoporosis, or weak and brittle bones
In many cases, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis can be confused with some other health issue. So, if you notice any of the above symptoms, make sure to speak to your doctor about it.
Tests to determine if you have ulcerative colitis
Your doctor may suggest the following tests to help diagnose the condition:
1. A physical examination:
Your doctor will first do a physical examination to check for signs and symptoms on the skin.
2. Initial blood tests:
The doctor will suggest a few blood tests that will help to check for the amount of red and white blood cells that you have. In case the red blood cell count is less, it could be a sign of anaemia. But if the white blood cell count is higher, it could indicate swelling or inflammation, or redness.
3. Sample stool test:
This test will help to check for any presence of abnormal bacteria in the digestive tract that could be causing the diarrhoea or other digestive issues.
4. An upper endoscopy:
This test will help to look inside and around the lining of the food pipe, or the oesophagus, the stomach as well as the top part of the small intestine. The doctor may also suggest a biopsy if required.
This test will help your doctor take a look in your large intestine. It helps to see if there is any abnormal growth, redness, swelling or bleeding.
6. Lower GI or gastrointestinal series:
Also known as the barium enema, this X-ray test will help the doctor to look into the rectum, the large intestine and the lower part of the small intestine.
7. Other blood tests:
Your doctor may also suggest some more blood tests to see the effects of the disease and understand how it is affecting your body.
Is it possible to cure ulcerative colitis?
There is no definite cure for ulcerative colitis. Your doctor will suggest different ways to manage the condition better:
- Reduce or remove food items in your diet such as dairy products, tea, coffee, cheese, yogurt, soda and other beverages.
- Reduce vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, and certain fruits.
- Avoid spicy foods, foods with artificial seasoning or flavours, red meat, fried and fatty foods and alcohol.
- Certain medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids and immunomodulators can also help, but these have to be prescribed by the doctor.
- In severe cases, doctors may suggest surgery to remove the colon and rectum.