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Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the colon, which is relatively common but remains poorly understood.
Diagnosis must be made by a healthcare practitioner—typically a gastroenterologist. Irritable bowel syndrome, a completely unrelated and less serious condition, was sometimes called mucous colitis in the past. As a result, the general term “colitis“ is still sometimes used inappropriately to refer to irritable bowel syndrome. It is critical that people who are diagnosed with “colitis” find out whether they have irritable bowel syndrome or UC.
UC is characterized by frequent abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. Other symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss, decreased appetite, and nausea.
For unknown reasons, smokers have a lower risk of UC. The nicotine patch has actually been used to induce remissions in people with UC,1 although this treatment has been ineffective in preventing relapses.2 On the other hand, Crohn’s disease, which is in many ways similar to UC, is made worse by smoking.3 Despite the possible protective effect of smoking in people with UC, a strong case can be made that risks of smoking outweigh the benefits; even the use of nicotine patches carries its own side effects and remains experimental.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.