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 the condition of being unpredictable. The symptoms may worsen and then disappear (known as remission) for months or even years.
Currently there is no cure for ulcerative colitis or pancolitis so the goal of treatment is 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 there is a possibility of serious consequences in its development.
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 in some way 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.
Exactly what causes the immune system to behave in this way is unclear. Most experts believe that a combination of 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 symptoms such as 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 a person between 15 and 30 years of age.
It is more common in white people of European origin, especially descendants of Jewish communities and blacks. The condition is much less frequent in people of Asian origin. The reasons for this are not clear.