Ulcerative Colitis Help, Advice & Remedy Ideas from UCer

Colitis Inflammation

I thought it might be interesting to provide some simple inflammation information. Learning how it works is fairly confusing; wading through explanations of cell types, antigens, markers, molecules, interleukins etc. is a minefield. So I've literally only scratched the surface - which ironically, can cause inflammation!

Inflammation is important

It's annoying that something which causes Colitis sufferers so many different symptoms is a necessary response to the immune system. In fact, inflammation is one of the most important defence systems our body has, enabling it to heal wounds and infection.

Unfortunately, in the case of colitis, the inflammation becomes chronic because the body's defence system is said to be fighting against itself. What triggers this response is a billion dollar question that's not fully understood, although certain suspects are high up the list. There are so many variables that finding a definitive is difficult, and can differ between UCers.

What is Inflammation?

In an nutshell, inflammation is the body's response to injury. It's important to remember that it's a response, because it's easy to think that inflammation is what UC sufferers are fighting against. Although the symptoms of inflammation are what make colitis such a terrible disease - they are a result of the body trying to eliminate the cause of inflammation in the large colon. If you consider that inflammation is a response, the cause behind it is what UCers should be focusing on.

In reference to medication, it dampens the inflammation, but does not tackle the cause of the inflammation. Again, this is why UCers should be actively researching/learning about what causes inflammation in the gut.

Continued research and studies seem to point towards bacteria in the microbiome as a main cause - perhaps an overgrowth or a deficiency of specific bacteria, inflammation would appear to be a way that the body is trying to correct the dysbiosis, or byproducts of certain bacteria can cause inflammation. The main point being that if the cause isn't addressed, the state of inflammation will continue.

When I look for explanations of ulcerative colitis autoimmune inflammation, I generally read something along the lines of 'the body is fighting against itself', but what does this actually mean? The problem is that it doesn't offer an explanation for the cause. It's simply stating what might be happening. Again, learning about causes of inflammation in the colon (like bacteria), would surely be more beneficial for UCers.

Leaky Gut Syndrome is an example of one approach against inflammation that has been succesful for some UCers.

How it works

For many UCers inflammation isn't confined to the large colon. Many suffer from aching joints, sore eyes, swollen joints, itchy skin etc., all as a result of inflammation.

Inflammation leads to redness, pain and swelling:

  • Redness is caused when the tissue at the problem area becomes dilated from increase blood flow
  • Pain is a result of stimulated nerve endings as a result of chemicals released during the inflammatory process
  • Swelling is a result of the capillaries allowing more fluid into the tissue

All these responses are part of the body's natural defence system.

The inflammatory response to the immune system is triggered by damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens (anything that causes disease e.g. bacterium). The body begins to repair or fight the problem in similar ways, although different procedures happen depending on the cause e.g. a cut to the skin or a bacterial infection.

The body deals with a pathogen by sending more blood plasma to the problem area - the blood contains different white blood cells (B cells, T cells, NK cells - collectively known as Lymphocytes) equipped to learn what the pathogen is, produce antibodies, fight it and consume it.

Can we beat autoimmune inflammation?

For many UCers, the confusing search for what's triggering their inflammation goes on, for others the inflammation is so severe that there's no time to search for a solution - I wish there was for their sake.

The majority of Ulcerative Colitis sufferers use meds that suppress the inflammation when it occurs, or try to prevent it from occurring by attempting to suppress the cause over the long term (maintenance meds). Although, thanks to the internet, there are a growing number of UCers who are using dietary trial and error succesfully to achieve similar results.

With each passing day, Medical Scientists are learning more about cells; the microbiome and what triggers the response that causes inflammation. Because of the complexity of UC and it's many variables, it's thought that eventually research could lead to sub-classification of Ulcerative Colitis with individualised, pathway-targeted treatments that offer the maximum benefit to patients.

Until then, as UCers, we must help ourselves as much as possible by learning about inflammation in the gut, and it's causes.