Pancolitis, also called ulcerative colitis, is a long-term disease that affects the colon.
- Diarrhea with blood.
- Abdominal pain.
- The frequent need to go to the bathroom.
These symptoms can vary from mild to severe, with unpredictable conditions. The symptoms may worsen and disappear (known as remission) for months or even years.
Currently, there is no cure for ulcerative colitis or pancolitis, so treatment aims to relieve symptoms and prevent the reappearance of symptoms during remission (maintenance therapy).
Medications such as Aminosalicylates and Corticosteroids (steroid medications) are used to relieve symptoms.
A complication needs treatment in the hospital since severe consequences in its development are possible.
As an option, surgery may be necessary to remove a section of the colon if the medication does not work.
What causes pancolitis?
Pancolitis is known as an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system – the body’s defense against infection – goes wrong somehow, and attacks against healthy tissue occur.
One theory is that the immune system confuses harmless bacteria within the colon as a threat and attacks its tissues, causing it to become inflamed. In severe cases, painful ulcers may bleed, producing mucus and pus.
Precisely what causes the immune system to behave in this way is unclear. Most experts believe that genetic and environmental factors may be responsible.
Inflammation of the bile ducts (ducts that carry bile from the liver) is called primary sclerosing cholangitis and can cause itchy skin and fatigue. The gases can also get trapped in the colon, causing it to swell; this is known as the Toxic Megacolon and requires emergency treatment, as it can be life-threatening.
People with pancolitis also have an increased risk of developing bowel cancer, so regular check-ups are recommended.
Who is affected?
Pancolitis is a rare disease. It is calculated for every 1,000 people; a new case is diagnosed each year. The condition usually appears in people between 15 and 30 years of age.