Ulcerative colitis (UC)
is a condition, which involves inflammation and ulceration of the lining
of the large intestine, medically called as colon. (Colitis=
inflammation of colon).
The digestive System is a system of organs responsible for digesting the
food we eat so that nutrients in the food are available to body to
provide required energy.The digestive
System consists of a long
tube, which connects the mouth to the anus. Once food leaves
the mouth, it enters the part of the GI tract called the
esophagus and then the stomach. In the stomach food pauses
for sometime and is mixed up with acid and juices present in
It then passes into the small intestine, which measures about 20 feet in
length. The small intestine has three parts; the part nearest the
stomach is the duodenum, the next part is the jejunum and the third part
that connects to the large intestine is the ileum. Small intestine is
the site where most of the food is digested with the assistance of
secretions from the liver, gall bladder, and pancreas. The nutrients
from this digested food are then absorbed through small intestine.
Followed by the small intestine is the large intestine, which is more
frequently referred to as the colon. The large intestine (colon) is 6-7
feet in length. The first part of the colon is called the caecum and the
appendix is found there. The caecum and appendix are situated in right
lower portion of the abdomen. Large intestine then extends upward (this
portion being called as ascending colon), then takes a turn and passes across
(portion called as transverse colon) and then goes down
wards (descending colon). At the end of descending colon,
portion of large intestine which look like alphabet S is
called as sigmoid colon which opens into rectum. The main
function of the colon is to absorb water from the processed
food residue that arrives after the nutrients have been
absorbed in the small intestine. The last part of the colon
is the rectum, which is a reservoir for feces. Faeces are
stored here until a bowel movement occurs.
The patients of ulcerative colitis have swelling along with
ulcers located in their colon and rectum.
Broadly speaking ulcerative colitis is included under an
umbrella term called as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
IBD is a term referring to the diseases that cause chronic
inflammatory condition of digestive tract. Another condition
included under this category is Crohns disease. Crohn's
disease can cause inflammation similar to ulcerative colitis
anywhere in the digestive tract from the mouth to the
rectum, but more commonly it attacks the small intestine in
contrast to ulcerative colitis, which attacks mainly the
Ulcerative colitis: Its types:
The inflammation related to ulcerative colitis usually
occurs in the rectum and lower part of the colon, but it may
affect the entire colon. Ulcerative colitis rarely affects
the small intestine except for the lower section, called the
ileum. Depending upon which portion of intestine is most
affected by UC, it is put under various types as follows.
Inflammation of Entire colon =Pan-colitis (pan =entire,
colitis=inflammation of colon)
Sigmoid colon (S shaped portion of colon located just above
the rectum) = Sigmoiditis
Beyond sigmoid colon= Left-sided colitis
Inside the large intestine, the inflammation of the inner
lining (mucosa) causes death of the colon lining cells and
this results in sores or ulcers. Also the inflammation makes
the colon to empty frequently resulting in diarrhea. As the
lining of the colon is destroyed, ulcers form releasing
mucus, pus and blood.
Nature of the disease:
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease and is notorious for
its waxing and waning nature.
Usually the patients of ulcerative colitis have alternating
periods of relative health where the patient is symptom-free
or experiences very mild symptoms (remissions) alternating
with periods of active disease (relapse or flare).
Fortunately, as treatment has improved, the proportion of
people with continued symptoms appears to have diminished
How common is the condition:
Ulcerative colitis is a global condition affecting people
world over. It is estimated that in Unites states alone
there are about one million people who suffer from some form
of IBD. About half of the people with IBD have ulcerative
colitis; about half have Crohn's disease.
Ulcerative colitis affects people of all ages, but at large
it is the disease of young adults. Most cases of UC are
diagnosed in people between the ages 15 to 40 years.
However, children as small as few months old and older
people sometimes develop the disease.
The incidence of Ulcerative colitis has risen with the tide
of civilization. Moreover this is a disease of young people
having grievous impact on their education and career.
Ulcerative colitis does not show any gender preference and
affect males and females equally. It appears to run in
families. Studies also consistently conclude that ulcerative
colitis occurs more often within the Jewish population.