Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

The most common ulcerative colitis symptoms are frequent bloody diarrhea (often with mucus) and abdominal pain.

If you are experiencing these problems, you should visit your physician as soon as possible. Your physician will be able to run tests to ascertain whether or not ulcerative colitis is your problem. He or she will most probably check for other types of colitis as well.

Living with Ulcerative Colitis

Perhaps you have already got a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. You may be new to the condition or maybe you have suffered from chronic ulcerative colitis for years.

Irrespective of whether or not you are a new or an "experienced" sufferer, you may be wondering how you can manage life with ulcerative colitis.

Living with ulcerative colitis can be challenging to say the least. It is probable that your symptoms will come and go. Sometimes you will experience periods of remission, when your symptoms disappear or are very minimal and at other times your symptoms will flare, affecting you physically and possibly also mentally.

How can you manage this unpredictable rollercoaster of events?

There are certain steps you can take to help yourself. These include:

  • Managing stress: learning to meditate and breathe diaphragmatically can help with stress management as can exercising, which is known to reduce stress. Pacing your activities also allows you to avoid taking on too much. Support from other sufferers can also be invaluable.

  • Healthy eating: eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables will ensure that you ingest the range of nutrients you require. If you suspect that some foods upset you, keep a food diary to help you track your symptoms.

Of course medication also plays a role in managing ulcerative colitis. Treatment usually involves immune suppressant and anti-inflammatory medications. In cases of severe inflammation and life-threatening complications, surgery may also be required. Evidence is also emerging to support the use of probiotics in treating ulcerative colitis. Read on to discover how you may be able to help your situation by using probiotics....

Probiotics for Ulcerative Colitis

At present the exact cause of ulcerative colitis is not known. However, emerging scientific opinion points to bacterial involvement. Thus in recent years numerous scientific studies have focused on the use of probiotic agents (both probiotic supplements and probiotic foods) to favorably alter the gut bacteria in cases of ulcerative colitis.

To date, the results are promising. Several researchers have concluded that probiotics are of benefit to patients with ulcerative colitis1. Indeed, the researcher Campieri et al (1999) concluded that influencing the colonic micro flora by means of probiotic supplementation "exerts a protective role in intestinal inflammatory disease"2.

Two specific probiotics in particular have shown to be of benefit3. Scientific studies have demonstrated that a non-pathogenic and beneficial strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) Nissle 1917, which is marketed under the name Mutaflor, is just as effective for ulcerative colitis patients as the drug mesalamine in terms of inducing and maintaining remission4,5,6. Indeed on this basis, Mutaflor is now recommended as a treatment for maintaining remission of ulcerative colitis in the guidelines of several European countries7.

Additionally the probiotic supplement VSL#3 (also written VSL3) has also shown to be effective in inducing remission of ulcerative colitis8,9.

It must be said however that the research in this area is in its infancy. More studies are required, particularly long-term research to ascertain whether the benefits achieved by using probiotics as a treatment for ulcerative colitis are sustainable.

Should I Try Probiotics for Ulcerative Colitis?

If you want to try probiotics for ulcerative colitis be sure to select only those strains and species that have been proven to be beneficial for this condition. Not all probiotics are the same! Ensure too that you discuss you plans with your treating physician before you begin. Good luck!

References

1.Cain AM & Karpa KD, Clinical Utility of Probiotics in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Altern Ther Health Med.; Jan-Feb 2011;17(1):72-9.

2.Campieri, M et al, Probiotics in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: New Insights to Pathogenesis or a Possible Therapeutic Alternative? Gastroenterology;1999; 116:1246-1260.

3.Fedorak, R, Probiotics in the Management of Ulcerative Colitis; Gastroenterol Hepatol ; November 2010; 6(11): 688–690.

4.Kruis W et al.; Maintaining Remission of Ulcerative Colitis with the Probiotic Escherichia Coli Nissle 1917 is as Effective as with Standard Mesalazine; Gut; 2004, 53:1617-1623.

5.Kruis W et al; Double-Blind Comparison of an Oral Escherichia Coli Preparation and Mesalazine in Maintaining Remission of Ulcerative Colitis; Aliment Pharmacol Ther 1997; 11: 853-858.

6.Rembacken, B. J; Non-Pathogenic Escherichia Coli versus Mesalazine for the Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis: a Randomised Trial; Lancet; 1999; 354: 635-639.

7.Rogler, G; Probiotics and Prebiotics in Ulcerative Colitis: Where Do We Stand?; Digestion; 84:126-127.

8.Bibiloni R et al; VSL#3 Probiotic-Mixture Induces Remission in Patients with Active Ulcerative Colitis, Am J Gastroenterol; Jul 2005; ;100(7):1539-46.

9.Venturi, A. et al. VSL#3® - The Probiotic Medical Food for the Dietary Management of Patients with Ulcerative Colitis, Aliment Pharmacol Ther; 1997:13(8):1103-1108


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