What is it?
Colitis is a chronic digestive disease characterized by , associated with altered bowel habits (constipation, diarrhea) and intermittent abdominal cramping.
Colitis is considered a gastrointestinal disorder of the large intestine, also known as the colon. It is widespread between the age group between 20 and 40 years. There can be different causes that lead to colitis, unhealthy eating behaviours and lifestyle, genetic predisposition and emotional factors.
The colon is the terminal end of the digestive system, where water is absorbed and the drier waste material is compacted into feces.
Stress is one of the factors that contribute to a colitis flare-up. At the level of the In the intestinal mucosa there are nerve endings, which respond to brain neurotransmitters that increase intestinal peristalsis.
In patients suffering from colitis, these nerve endings can be much more sensitive to stimuli induced by neurotransmitters. Very often, stress, anger, emotional changes can greatly aggravate the symptoms of colitis.
The development and course of colitis are affected by several factors:
- Intestinal dysbiosis;
- Intestinal parasitosis;
- Psychophysical stress;
- Menstrual cycle, as the intestine is very sensitive to the effect of female sex hormones;
- Diet low in water and fiber, rich in saturated fats and foods of animal origin;
- Food intolerances.
The main symptoms associated with colitis are:
- Abdominal swelling, aerophagia and meteorism;
- Mucus in the stool;
- Abdominal pain and cramps;
- Excessive gas;
- Alternating of constipation and diarrhea;
In the presence of more serious symptoms such as bleeding during bowel movement, anemia, weight loss or high fever, the patient must absolutely contact a gastroenterologist.
- First of all, to arrive to a diagnose of colitis, the patient has to accurately report the symptoms to the competent doctor. The doctor must be good at understanding whether colitis can derive from a psycho-emotional state of the patient.
- Very often colitis is associated with lactose intolerance. In fact, the deficiency of the enzyme lactase does not allow the normal digestion of lactose and consequently this sugar moves into the colon instead of being processed and absorbed. This will cause a high production of intestinal gas, abdominal pain, alternation between constipation and diarrhea. Lactose intolerance can be diagnosed with a genetic test or with a breath test.
- A casein allergy, that occurs when your body mistakenly identifies casein as a threat to your body, can lead to colitis symptoms.
- Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity cause symptoms similar to colitis.Celiac disease can be diagnosed with genetic testing or the search for specific antibodies in the blood, while gluten sensitivity can only be diagnosed with genetic testing.
- Scientific studies show that women suffering from endometriosis are more prone to colitis.
- In case of severe, intense and continuous symptoms, a colon x-ray or colonoscopy can be done.
Depending on the cause, antidepressants, or antispasmodics of the colitis are the main medications used to treat ulcerative colitis. In the acute stages of the disease, intestinal antiseptics and specific antidiarrheal drugs are also prescribed.
Even an unbalanced diet can increase the symptoms of colitis.
The main rules of a diet for the treatment of colitis are as:
- Avoid any form of food with corrosive and irritating actions for the mucosa. Therefore frying, prolonged cooking, grilling, must be absolutely excluded.
- Steam cooking, boiling fish and vegetables, microwave cooking are recommended instead.
- Reduce the consumption of alcohol, coffee, salt, hot spices, carbonated drinks, milk and derivatives, legumes with peel, dried fruit, products packaged with saccharin, aspartame, sorbitol, saturated and hydrogenated fats.
- Prefer lean meat and fish, pureed or shelled legumes, eggs, cheeses and dairy products, with a maximum frequency of once a week, fruit and vegetables preferably without seeds.
- There are some natural remedies that tend to greatly alleviate the symptoms associated with colitis, such as fennel tea, fenugreek, mallow or blueberry leaf decoction.