A Gut Feeling – Sometimes it is Ulcerative Colitis (UC)
Ever heard that phrase “it’s a gut feeling”? Sure you have. People say it all the time. They think it means that they instinctively know something that other people can’t sense. Many people use that phrase a lot. But sometimes a bad feeling in the gut is something much more serious – like a condition called Ulcerative Colitis (UC).
What is UC? It’s an inflammatory disease of the colon. It causes ulcers and sores in the colon and the rectum. It’s painful. Actually it is very painful.
No one really knows what causes UC. It is often misdiagnosed as Irritable bowel or Crohn’s Disease.
Sometimes it isn’t diagnosed at all. That’s when it can be the most dangerous. This disease is one that people just don’t like to talk about. It is embarrassing to discuss with anyone, including the doctor. Because the sores and ulcers line the colon, they cause the bowel to empty more often than normal. That means running to the bathroom a lot. It means inconvenient trips to the bathroom when you are shopping, eating out, at your child’s Christmas play, at a funeral, at a concert, or at work. It basically screws up your life. It can make you depressed. It will make you tired. It will make you crabby. It will cause you more pain that you have ever had in your life.
No one really knows what causes Ulcerative Colitis. Scientists believe it is some sort of autoimmune reaction within the person’s body acting against itself. There isn’t a cure. There are various treatments and there is pain control. Many of the treatments that can put the body into remission can also exacerbate the symptoms. It is a vicious circle.
Symptoms of UC include the following:
Loss of appetite
Unexplained lesions on the skin
Severe cases have bloody diarrhea, nausea, severe abdominal cramps and eye problems. The pain is a cramping pain that can cause vomiting and dry heaves. The pain is severe and can last several days. Women liken it to labor pains. It seems to worsen with the action of the colon in expelling what is inside.
UC doesn’t have anything to do with stress or food allergies. Steroids, 5 ASA drugs such as balsalazide, 6 MP, azathriophrine, are drugs given by physicians to control UC. Pain medication is given to control the pain.
There are times when the patient has to be hospitalized and put on “total GI rest”. This means that they don’t get to eat. Liquids only. This is to give the gut some time to “regroup”. Only about 5% of UC patients get colon cancer.
Next time you say you have a “gut feeling” think about people who have Ulcerative Colitis. And watch out for people who have the symptoms. The information you have learned here could help them identify UC.