Ulcerative Colitis And Its Associated Complications

Ulcerative colitis is one of the most common conditions that belong to the group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease. Ulcerative colitis is a condition that causes the inflammation of the colon and it is accompanied by various symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bowel urgency
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in the stool

Inflammatory bowel disease is a term that is used for the conditions that involve gastrointestinal tract. Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition which occurs due to the failure of the immune system to function normally. The primary function of the immune system is to protect the body against bacteria, virus and other harmful substances but this disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells of the digestive system. Inflammatory bowel disease is categorized into two major diseases - Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis. The inflammation begins in the rectum and extends up the colon in a continuous manner.

Ulcerative colitis is categorized into three forms - ulcerative proctitis, pancolitis, and distal colitis.

  • Ulcerative proctitis means that the inflammation occurs in the rectum or the lower part of the colon. It is a mild form.
  • Pancolitis means that the inflammation occurs in the entire colon. The symptoms that are associated with this form are severe.
  • Distal colitis means that the inflammation occurs only in the left side of the colon.

Complications associated with Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a serious disorder and is associated with various complications that can impair the quality of life of an individual. Some of the related complications are as follows:

1. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is defined as a disorder of the bone. It is a condition in which bones lose their strengths and are more likely to break following a minor fall. Osteoporosis causes the ones to become thin, brittle, and weak and these changes in the bones increase the risk of an individual to suffer from a fracture. Osteoporosis is one of the most common bone disorder that affect millions of people worldwide and it is highly believed that women are five times more likely to suffer from osteoporosis as compared to the males.

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Osteoporosis is said to be a silent disease because generally, it does not show any symptoms until a fracture occurs. Fractures are the most common symptom of osteoporosis and most commonly occurs in the hip, wrist, and spine. Some other symptoms that can occur in osteoporosis include loss of height, a curve in the back, back pain, stooping posture and hunched back. Other than inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis has many other risk factors as well such as calcium deficiency, high caffeine intake, vitamin D deficiency and high salt intake.

2. Colon cancer

Colon cancer or colorectal cancer is said to be a common complication that is associated with ulcerative colitis. Cancer is a life threatening disease and it occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of healthy cells in the body. Colorectal cancer begins in the colon and this means that the healthy cells of the colon are growing uncontrollably. Most often colon cancer starts as a polyp. A polyp is defined as an overgrowth of cells that line the inner wall of the colon. Removal of polyps is highly important. There are three types of polyps:

  • Adenomatous polyps - It is the most common type of polyps and most often it does not become cancer but most of the polyps with cancer develop in adenomas. This type of polyp have cells that do not look like normal cells of the colon.

  • Hyperplastic polyps -  It is a type of polyp that have cells that grow quickly and it is found in the rectum or the last part of the colon.

  • Inflammatory polyps - This type of polyp grow after the flare up of an inflammatory bowel disease.

Colon cancer is classified into four stages and it depends on how far cancer has spread in the colon layers, muscles and lymph nodes.

3. Arthritis

Arthritis is also considered to be the complication of ulcerative colitis. Arthritis is one of the common complaint made by people these days and millions of people throughout the world are suffering from this disease. Arthritis is not only a problem of adults but it also affects children and it affects in the same way as it affects adults. When arthritis affects children it is known as juvenile arthritis.

Arthritis is a term which refers to inflammation of the joints. Arthritis is characterized by various symptoms but a pain in the joints is the most common symptom. The pain of arthritis can be defined by two types - acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain is a short term pain which is limited and is usually relieved after taking medicines. Whereas chronic pain is a long term pain and it is associated with the impaired quality of life. Pain in arthritis is usually caused by several factors such as inflammation that contributes to redness and swelling of joints and damage to joint tissues due to various reasons such as stress. Arthritis is of many types and the cause of arthritis depends on the type of arthritis.

4. Primary sclerosing cholangitis

There is a strong relationship between primary sclerosing cholangitis and ulcerative colitis. Many people having ulcerative colitis have also been diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis.  Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a chronic liver disease is a condition in which the inflammation and fibrosis of intrahepatic as well as of extrahepatic bile ducts occurs and it lead to the formation of multifocal bile duct strictures. Many primary sclerosing cholangitis is associated with inflammatory bowel disease and hence primary sclerosing cholangitis is a diagnosis of exclusion that can be established only in the absence of toxic, infectious or inflammatory that leads to the characteristic bile duct injury pattern.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a disease that blocks the bile duct inside and outside the liver. The bile ducts carry the bile out of the liver to the gallbladder and it also helps in the breakdown of food in the small intestine. It is a serious disorder and is associated with various complications.

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