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Ulcerative Colitis

What causes Ulcerative Colitis?

There is no definitive answer as to what causes Ulcerative Colitis. Researchers do not believe it is caused by emotional stress or by food, or that it is transmitted directly from one person to another.

Research has shown that in ulcerative colitis, the body's defenses are operating against some substances in the body, perhaps in the digestive tract, which the body recognizes as foreign.

These foreign substances (antigens) may themselves cause the inflammation to begin or stimulate the inflammatory process to continue without control.

Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis

Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis involves medication that decrease the abnormal inflammation in the colon lining and thereby control the symptoms. There are also diet and lifestyle changes which can help to lessen the symptoms as well as supplements which have proven helpful.

Recent studies show that symptoms of ulcerative colitis are closely associated with an imbalance in the ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria in the colon and that this ratio is perhaps the most crucial element in our health today.

Researchers estimate that the average intestinal tract of a healthy individual should be approximately 85% beneficial and 15% pathogenic. While that 15% pathogenic is still in your body, it is benign when it is in the presence of the 85% beneficial bacteria. The real problem here is that the average individual, consuming the standard American diet, has the exact opposite ratio, which is 15% beneficial and 85% pathogenic.

According to research presented by Richard Fedorak, MD at Digestive Disease Week 2003 in Orlando FL, VSL#3 Probiotic therapy can be effective for treating patients with ulcerative colitis.

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory disease of the colon, the large intestine, which is characterized by inflammation and ulceration of the innermost lining of the colon.

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Who has Ulcerative Colitis?

It is estimated that there are up to 2,000,000 Americans with either Ulcerative Colitis or Crohns disease, (together known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease). Ulcerative colitis is mostly a disease of the young with most cases generally beginning before age 30, although Ulcerative Colitis can also occur in the later decades of life. There is also a greater incidence of ulcerative colitis in Jews than non-Jews.

What are the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis include:
  • diarrhea (with or without rectal bleeding)
  • abdominal pain
  • loosening of the stool
  • cramps and abdominal pain
  • severe urgency to have a bowel movement
  • diarrhea
  • skin lesions
  • joint pain
  • in children, failure to grow properly

Crohn's Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome are similar to Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative Colitis differs from Crohns disease in that Crohns may affect any area of the gastrointestinal tract including the small intestine and may have areas of normal intestine between areas of diseased intestine, so-called "skip" areas.

Ulcerative colitis affects only the innermost lining of the colon, whereas Crohn's disease can affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall. Ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease are different from spastic colon or irritable bowel syndrome, which is a motility disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. Irritable Bowel Syndrome bears no direct relationship to either ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease.

"Many ulcerative colitis patients do not respond to conventional treatments and side effects of medications can be troublesome," Dr. Fedorak said. "These results are meaningful because they demonstrate that adding a probiotic with multiple strains and a high concentration of bacteria to the treatment regimen may have the potential to stop this disease in its tracks and avoid any treatment-related side effects."

Is Ulcerative Colitis hereditary?

We know that ulcerative colitis can tend to run in families. Studies have shown that as many as 20 percent of patients with ulcerative colitis will have a close relative with either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. Most often the affected relative of the ulcerative colitis patient will also have ulcerative colitis.

However, there does not appear to be a clear-cut pattern to this inheritance at this time. Researchers continue to seek specific genes involved in the cause of ulcerative colitis, but currently there is no way to predict which, if any, family members will develop ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

What tests are available to confirm Ulcerative Colitis?

Genova Lab aka Great Smokies Comprehensive Stool Analysis 2.0 is an easy to administer, home test that will reveal which pathogenic organisms are prevalent in the digestive tract as well as what specific medicinal and herbal products assist in eliminating these organisms. This simple stool test differentiates between Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn's Disease & Ulcerative Colitis) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Read more on Ulcerative Colitis here

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