Have you ever wondered why you have continuous bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps, are dehydrated, and feel feverish all the time? If you have these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention as you could be at risk of ulcerative colitis.
Online medical experts advise that mothers who feed their babies with cow’s milk during the first six months should stop because it could result in ulcerative colitis disorder in the future.
Are your parents or relatives suffering from the same disorder? Do a check up now to know where you stand as the condition can be inherited.
“Ulcerative Colitis is one of the most common types of inflammatory bowel diseases which only affect the colon and rectum,” says Dr Dieudonné Bukaba, a nutrition expert from AVEGA Clinic Remera.
He adds that ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the lining of the large intestines (colon); it usually affects the lower section (sigmoid colon) and rectum though it can affect the entire colon but the more the colon is affected, the worse the symptoms will be.
Bukaba says, “The disease can affect people of any age, however, most people who suffer from it are diagnosed before the age of 30.”
He explains that experts are not sure of the exact cause; they think it might be caused by the immune system overreacting to normal bacteria in the digestive tract, or other kinds of bacteria and viruses can cause it.
Dr Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist from Amazon Wellness Centre Ltd in Remera, says that dietary factors are the main cause of ulcerative colitis, that is to say for babies who are exposed to poor feeding, for example if babies are given solid food (like cereal or wheat products) before six months, the food is not digestible, hence remains in the colon thus causing long term effects and ulcerative colitis is one of them.
However, he advises parents to breastfeed their children for at least one year because cow’s milk is dangerous for them and hard to digest.
Kamanzi discourages old people from depending on fried food since it can cause ulcerative colitis.
He adds that contaminated food is a cause of ulcerative colitis since it contains bacteria and virus, for example shigella virus which is usually found in bloody diarrhoea.
“Food allergy, for example, regarding a certain kind of food or poor eating habits, may confuse the immune system when the body is dictated to digest the food it is not able to, the body will develop a mechanism to defend itself against that kind of food and this will lead to ulcerative colitis,” says Kamanzi.
Kamanzi says that stress hinders proper digestion because the brain is not able to control the body activities hence leading to an immune disorder which can lead to ulcerative colitis.
Bukaba says that you are more likely to get ulcerative colitis if other people in your family have it.
“The main symptoms are belly pain or cramps, diarrhoea, bleeding from the rectum, some people may have fever, or not feel hungry and lose weight, you may have diarrhoea 10 to 20 times a day,” says Bukaba.
He also says that the disease can cause other problems such as joint pain, eye problems or liver disease. But in most people the symptoms are on and off where some go for months or years without symptoms, though about 5 to 10 out of 100 people with ulcerative colitis have symptoms all the time.
Kamanzi says some of the symptoms are severe bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain, dehydration (dry mouth, dry skin, sunken eyes).
Kamanzi says that if one has the above symptoms, doctors usually do a haemoglobin test to find if someone is not anaemic.
“During a physical examination, doctors ask about the symptoms and a number of tests which can help them rule out other problems that that can cause similar symptoms. Some of the tests done include a colonoscopy, here the doctor uses a thin, lighted tool to look at the inside of the entire colon and take a sample of the lining of the colon,” Bukaba explains.
He also says that blood tests are also done which identify infection or inflammation, and a stool sample testing to look for blood, infection, and white blood cells.
Kamanzi says, “If the disease is due to dietary disorders, we advise patients on medication to stop taking milk, milk products and red meat because it is complicated to be digested and absorbed in the colon.”
He also advises an ultrasound test to capture live images from the inside of the body if someone has the above signs and symptoms.
Adding on, Kamanzi says that if it is a bacterial infection, you should take microscopic examination of the stool to find whether there is salmonella (the bacterial that affects the intestinal tract) in the stool or doctors should recommend antibiotics.
“For patients suffering from ulcerative colitis, they should feed on soft food since it is easy for the body to digest,” Kamanzi advises.