What is Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a disease that affects around 120,000 people in the UK and causes inflammation
of the large intestine - or colon. Symptoms
vary in severity from pain and discomfort, through mucous
in the stools to in the most severe cases blood in the
stools see the Colitis Symptoms page for more information. It is generally diagnosed by inspection of the
colon by a hospital consultant - a colonoscopy.
The underlying cause of ulcerative colitis is still not known
- though the disease is associated with dysfunction of the
immune system. In the disease the body's own T-cells attack
the lining of the bowel - and hence cause it to be inflamed.
The body's immune system then takes this inflammation to
be a further sign of infection - increasing the immune response
- in a vicious cycle. This situation is what people would
term a flare-up.
Ulcerative colitis is treated using a variety of medications
designed to either directly reduce the inflammation
- such as steroids - or to reduce the immune response
such a immunomodulators.