Inflammatory bowel disease refers to a disease in which abnormal chronic inflammation in the intestinal tract appears repeatedly with improvement and recurrence. Ulcerative colitis is one of these inflammatory bowel diseases, and refers to a disease in which inflammation or ulceration occurs in the mucous membrane or submucosa of the large intestine. Ulcerative colitis has a characteristic that is limited to the large intestine, and it gradually spreads throughout the entire large intestine starting with rectal analitis, and the lesion site is continuously connected.
Ulcerative colitis, which is classified into several diagnostic names such as chronic recurrent colitis, chronic persistent colitis, and acute fulminant colitis, has not yet been clarified as to the main cause of its occurrence. It is estimated that several factors, such as genetic factors such as family history, irregular and irritating eating habits and stress, and excessive immune response to bacteria normally present in the intestine, influence the occurrence.
In particular, an irregular diet centered on meat and high-fat foods is known to be the main cause of acute exacerbation of ulcerative colitis. In the past, there were many outbreaks in North America and Europe due to these eating habits, but recently, due to changes in eating habits, the incidence is also rapidly increasing in Asian countries including Korea. Now, let’s take a closer look at the main symptoms of ulcerative colitis, as well as various information on treatment and prevention.
The main symptoms of ulcerative colitis
When ulcerative colitis develops, the main symptom is watery stools with mucus and blood or diarrhea several times a day. In addition, if symptoms are more severe, severe abdominal pain, dehydration, fever, general weakness, vomiting, and weight loss may be accompanied by various symptoms. If only the rectum is inflamed, stools may be slightly soft and constipation may occur, and even after passing a bowel movement, you may feel a feeling of poor bowel movement.
In addition, arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis may occur due to abnormalities in the peripheral region, including anemia caused by chronic bleeding, and may occur in the form of systemic symptoms such as musculoskeletal abnormalities, ophthalmic abnormalities, and renal dysfunction. Ulcerative colitis is known as a disease with a high probability of recurrence within one year after the onset of the disease. In addition, the risk of progressing to colorectal cancer increases if the change in the abnormal area continues because the treatment time is missed or the inflammation is not well controlled for a long time, so careful management and attention are required.
Ulcerative colitis treatment and prevention
1. Diagnosis and appropriate treatment through multiple tests
In the case of ulcerative colitis, the medical history and examination are performed, and the inside of the intestine is accurately observed through blood tests, colon x-rays, and colonoscopy. Thereafter, depending on the diagnosis result, treatment procedures such as drug treatment and surgical treatment are carried out according to the scope, severity, and clinical manifestation of the disease. Medication is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs such as sulfasulazine and mesalamine to reduce inflammation of the large intestine and prevent symptoms from worsening, as well as various drugs such as corticosteroids, immunomodulators, antibiotics, and biologics. In case the patient does not respond to these medications or if complications occur, surgical treatment is performed. Since ulcerative colitis is prone to recurrence and is difficult to cure, treatment is carried out with the goal of maintaining remission as long as possible, which refers to the period when symptoms do not appear.
2. Limit your intake of greasy and spicy foods
If you have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, it’s important to limit your intake of greasy, spicy, salty, and irritating foods. In addition, it is recommended to avoid eating various processed foods and instant foods with high fat content as they cause an imbalance in the intestinal bacterial layer and aggravate the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. In addition, it is important to reduce the intake of these foods, as caffeine-containing coffee and beverages, milk, and fructose-containing soda and fruit juice are also the main causes of worsening symptoms.
3. Maintain a healthy and balanced diet
Properly controlling the intake of various foods mentioned above and increasing the intake of fresh vegetables and fruits are important in preventing the occurrence of ulcerative colitis and alleviating symptoms. In particular, eating green vegetables, soft vegetables such as eggplant, mushrooms, and zucchini, and fruits such as bananas and apples are said to help improve the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. However, since the foods that help improve these symptoms are applied differently to each individual, it is said that it is a good way to record the foods eaten and the presence or absence of symptoms, and to consume food according to the written journal.
In addition, excessive stress is also a major cause of worsening symptoms of ulcerative colitis, so it is recommended to have a management habit to properly control stress. In addition, it has been reported that various exercises such as walking and swimming can help relieve symptoms when continuously maintained at an appropriate intensity to help the bowel movement actively.