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Sign and Symptoms of Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a health problem involving inflammation of Colon along with the ulcer (open sores) formations. The inflamed colon results in pain in abdomen, diarrhea, a constant urge to pass the stools, and bleeding. The frequent passage of the stool might result in hemorrhoids which in turn increase the frequency of bleeding. Frequent diarrhea results in malabsorption, weight loss and fatigue. Fever, chills, and other signs of infection and inflammation may be present depending upon the cause of colitis.
Ulcerative colitis is an intermittent disease, with periods of exacerbated symptoms, and periods that are relatively symptom-free. Although the symptoms of ulcerative colitis can sometimes diminish on their own, the disease usually requires treatment to go into remission.
There are no direct causes for ulcerative colitis, but there are many possible factors such as genetics and stress.
Genetic factors: A genetic component to the etiology of ulcerative colitis can be hypothesized based on the following:
- Aggregation of ulcerative colitis in families.
- Identical twin concordance rate of 10% and dizygotic twin concordance rate of 3%
- Ethnic differences in incidence
- Genetic markers and linkages
- Diet: as the colon is exposed to many dietary substances which may encourage inflammation, dietary factors have been hypothesized to play a role in the pathogenesis of both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
- Breastfeeding: There have been conflicting reports of the protection of breastfeeding in the development of inflammatory bowel disease.
- Autoimmune disease: Some sources list ulcerative colitis as an autoimmune disease, a disease in which the immune system malfunctions, attacking some part of the body. In contrast to Crohn's disease, which can affect areas of the gastrointestinal tract outside of the colon, ulcerative colitis usually involves the rectum and is confined to the colon, with occasional involvement of the ileum.
Extra intestinal features:
As ulcerative colitis is believed to have a systemic (i.e., autoimmune) origin, patients may present with co-morbidities leading to symptoms and complications outside the colon. These include the following:
- Aphthous ulcers of the mouth
- Ophthalmic (involving the eyes):
- Iritis or uveitis, which is inflammation of the iris
- Seronegative arthritis, which can be a large-joint oligoarthritis (affecting one or two joints), or may affect many small joints of the hands and feet
- Ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis of the spine
- Sacroiliitis, arthritis of the lower spine
- Cutaneous (related to the skin):
- Erythema nodosum, which is a inflammation of subcutaneous tissue involving the lower extremities
- Pyoderma gangrenosum, which is a painful ulcerating lesion involving the skin
- Deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
- Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
- Clubbing, a deformity of the ends of the fingers
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis, a distinct disease that causes inflammation of the bile ducts
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