Warning – not for those who do not tolerate discussion of bodily functions.
Today appears to be the day for providing education. I have talked about Ulcerative Colitis, but have not really explained what it is and how it impacts my life. According to one of my new favorite sources, Cedars-Sinai, “Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes inflammation (painful swelling) and sores (ulcers) in the top layers of the lining of the large intestine. The inflammation usually occurs in the rectum and lower part of the colon (large intestine), although it may affect the entire organ. Ulcerative colitis may also be called colitis, ileitis or proctitis.”
Symptoms can include:
- Abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea (most common symptoms)
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Rectal bleeding
- Loss of body fluids and nutrients
“Other medical problems that crop up as a result of ulcerative colitis include arthritis, eye inflammation, liver disease, osteoporosis (loss of bone mass), skin rashes, anemia and kidney stones. These conditions are usually mild and go away when the colitis is treated.”
From what I understand, ulcerative colitis (UC) occurs equally in men and women. It is generally diagnosed sometime between age 15 and 40. However, one of my grandparents was diagnosed beyond age 60. The medical community has not determined a cause. However, there does appear to be some relationship to the autoimmune system. Many people with UC take immunosuppressants. In other words, we take medication that suppresses our immune systems.
Although UC is not caused by stress, certain foods, food products, or medications, these can lead to an exacerbation or worsening of symptoms. In my own situation, stress and some medications can actually yank me out of remission and into a full blown episode of UC.
As I have indicated in earlier posts, I was diagnosed at age 19. The list of others living with the same diagnosis is quite surprising. It includes entertainers, athletes, and politicians. The most important lesson learned in the 32 years since my diagnosis…I have Ulcerative Colitis, it DOES NOT and NEVER WILL have me!
If you would like to learn more or even donate to help others with the disease, stop by the Crohn’s Colitis Foundation of America: http://www.ccfa.org/.