Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) refers to a variety of conditions in which a chronic immune response and inflammation occur throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases are triggered by an abnormal response by the body’s immune system. In a normal functioning immune system, the cells protect the body from infection. However, in those who are suffering from IBD, the immune system mistakes bacteria, food, and other materials in the intestine as foreign substances and attack the cells in the intestines. As an immune response, the body sends white blood cells to the lining of the intestines, ultimately causing a chronic inflammation and the patient then experiences a variety of symptoms.
Symptoms of an IBD can vary, depending on the severity and location of the inflammation. Common symptoms of an inflammatory bowel disease include abdominal pain and cramping that usually disappear after a bowel movement, constipation or difficulty passing stool, diarrhea, fever, gastrointestinal bleeding, gurgling or splashing sound heard over the intestine, nausea and vomiting, pain in the joints, and undesired weight loss. Since these symptoms can indicate a number of possible diseases, it can be difficult to determine the correct diagnoses. The two main types of IBD are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, but determining a patient’s exact diagnoses can be challenging.
Although Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis share similar symptoms, there are a few major differences that distinguish these two diseases. The primary distinction involves the location of the inflammation. Crohn’s Disease usually affects the upper portion of the gastrointestinal tract while Ulcerative Colitis affects the lower portion. More specifically, Crohn’s Disease occurs in both the small and large intestines whereas Ulcerative Colitis is restricted to the colon and rectum. Another major difference involves the type of tissue being affected. Ulcerative colitis only occurs in the lining of the intestine while the damage caused by Crohn's disease can extend to all layers of the intestinal wall.
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis vary in severity and may begin gradually or suddenly. Abdominal pain and cramping are usually the first signs, followed by an urgent and sometimes continual need to have a bowel movement. Blood and pus may also appear in the stool. The patient can also develop anemia depending on the amount of blood that is being lost. In addition, some patients may experience diarrhea, weight loss, and fever. If diarrhea is continuous, dehydration may occur resulting in low blood pressure, fast heart rate, and dizziness.
There are three serious complications of ulcerative colitis. This includes intestinal perforation, toxic dilation of the colon, and colon cancer. Intestinal perforation is a life-threatening condition that develops when a hole forms in the intestinal wall. At first an ulcer forms but...