Inflammatory response is a normal reaction to injury or infection. However, it becomes problematic when excessive levels are present in the body. Chronic inflammation occurs due to long term exposure to environmental factors such as infections, toxins, radiation etc. The immune system responds with various inflammatory processes including the production of cytokines (messenger molecules) which stimulate other cells in the body to produce proteins called antibodies. These proteins bind to specific antigens on foreign invaders and cause them to attack the invading invader.
The most common type of chronic inflammation is known as non-specific colitis. Non-specific colitis results from a combination of genetic predisposition, diet, lifestyle habits and environmental factors such as stressors. When these factors combine they result in increased intestinal permeability resulting in systemic inflammation leading to symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation. Symptoms may vary depending upon the individual but usually include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight gain and skin rashes.
Non-specific colitis is often associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Other forms of non-specific colitis include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac sprue, psoriasis, acne vulgaris and others. IBS is characterized by gastrointestinal distress lasting at least three months; it affects up to 10% of the population. In people with IBS, there is an increase in the production of cytokines and antibodies leading to an increase in inflammatory mediators.
It is important to recognize the symptoms of non-specific colitis in order to seek medical attention early enough. If left untreated, it may lead to further complications and a decrease in quality of life. There are many treatment options available; most healthcare professionals agree that a multi-disciplinary approach to treating the condition works best. Medications may be used to treat the underlying condition such as antibiotics for infections, or steroids for autoimmune disorders. Other treatment options include lifestyle changes such as stress reduction, exercise, diet and supplementation.
There is evidence that shows the benefits of using supplements to treat non-specific colitis by decreasing inflammation in the body and healing the intestines.
A healthy diet is necessary to decrease inflammatory mediators; there are many whole foods that can help reduce symptoms associated with non-specific colitis. It is important to eat a well-balanced diet that is rich in whole grains, lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation and help with autoimmune disorders. Foods high in omega-3’s include flaxseed oil, fish oil, walnuts and tofu. Probiotics are also very beneficial when treating non-specific colitis; they help maintain the balance of “good” bacteria in the digestive system which helps to prevent inflammatory attacks.
There are many supplements that can be used to help treat non-specific colitis such as marshmallow, slippery elm, licorice root, turmeric and butcher’s broom. Lifestyle changes including stress reduction techniques and exercise can also help reduce symptoms of non-specific colitis. It is important to consult a physician when considering the use of supplements; medications may be necessary in severe cases.
The term “colitis” is derived from the Latin word “colo” meaning to till or to turn up the soil. It is a general term that refers to an inflammation of the colon (large intestine).
Colitis may be classified as either ulcerative colitis or non-ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative Colitis affects only the large intestine and results in the formation of ulcers. Non-ulcerative colitis affects only the large intestine but does not result in ulcers.
Non-specific colitis (NSC) refers to inflammation that does not display the features of ulcerative colitis or other identified causes of colitis. NSC may be acute or chronic. Acute NSC is a short-term inflammation whereas chronic NSC lasts more than eight weeks.
Non-specific colitis was first described in medical literature in 1887 by Sir William Osler.
Acute non-specific colitis can be caused by an infectious organism such as a virus or a bacterium. This type of colitis is often seen in individuals who have recently had contact with someone who has an infectious condition, and it most frequently affects children. Viral infections, such as influenza or other types of gastroenteritis are known to cause this condition. It can also be caused by the ingestion of contaminated food or water. Risk factors for this type of colitis may include antibiotic use and sexual activity.
This form of colitis presents with either bloody stools or diarrhea, and it usually passes after several days or up to a week.
Colitis may also be caused by an allergic reaction to foods or certain chemicals, such as those contained in dyes or preservatives. Ingestion of specific chemicals may cause an allergic reaction that results in inflammation of the colon. This form of colitis only affects individuals who have hypersensitivities to the particular allergen. The most common allergens are aspirin, barbiturates and food coloring.
This type of colitis usually presents with diarrhea as the main symptom, but it may also present with constipation or pain. The diarrhea may be bloody or non-bloody. It may be accompanied by pain or fatigue.
This form of colitis is a rare side effect of chemotherapeutic drugs used to treat cancer. It may also occur after radiation therapy directed towards the abdomen. It presents with blood and mucus in the stool, or with a combination of diarrhea and constipation.
The most common symptom of non-specific colitis is abdominal pain. Other common symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and weight loss. The diarrhea may be copious or intermittent, and it may be watery or bloody. Stools may be soft or hard. There may be accompanying vomiting or discomfort.
Non-specific colitis is a condition in which inflammation of the large intestine (colon) occurs for an indeterminate reason. Microscopic damage to the lining of the colon causes bleeding and immune reactions within the walls of the colon. This leads to the release of substances that trigger an inflammatory response. This inflammation causes the symptoms associated with this condition.
Non-specific colitis is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that other potential diagnoses are ruled out before this one is determined. The physical exam and medical history are most important tools used by the physician to arrive at this diagnosis. A sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy can also be used to rule out other conditions such as ulcerative colitis and cancer.
Treatment of non-specific colitis depends upon the severity of the condition. Acute symptoms are treated with medication such as Imodium (loperamide) to control diarrhea. Antibiotics may be used if there is an infection present. Medications such as Lialda and Asacol can be used long-term. Dietary changes with the exclusion of certain foods may also help control symptoms.
Severe cases may require corticosteroid therapy or immunosuppressants.
Non-specific colitis is a relatively uncommon condition that primarily affects middle-aged and older adults. The cause is unknown, but may be triggered by an infection or the side effects of medication in some cases. Despite the name, it should not be confused with ulcerative colitis. The main symptom is abdominal pain, which may be severe. Other symptoms of non-specific colitis may include fever, weight loss, and diarrhea or constipation.
The diagnosis is typically made after other causes of the symptoms have been ruled out. Corticosteroid therapy and immunosuppressants are the primary treatments.
The appropriate treatment of the non-specific colitis is to decrease the activity of the colon, giving antidiarrheal drugs and in severe cases, to perform a subtotal colectomy.
The exact cause of the non-specific colitis is unknown, but according to some studies there may be a relation between this disease and the use of aminoglycoside antibiotics. Non-specific colitis also appears with greater frequency in patients who have an impaired immune system due to an underlying disease or by undergoing immunosuppressive therapy. Other possible causes are toxins (such as from mushrooms), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Other risk factors are:
The main symptoms of non-specific colitis present themselves as an inflammatory process of the large intestine (colon), with diarrhea or constipation or with both, hematochezia (blood in the stool) and / or melena (visible pieces of digested blood).
Other symptoms may include weight loss and weakness.
The diagnosis of non-specific colitis is made after ruling out other possible causes such as infectious (i.e., salmonellosis, shigellosis and Campylobacter) and inflammatory (i.e., ulcerative colitis).
There are no specific laboratory tests to confirm non-specific colitis, but a colonoscopy usually shows the presence of the disease.
If necessary, this can be followed by endoscopy and biopsy.
The treatment of the non-specific colitis is to suppress the activity of the colon with drugs like loperamide and codeine (antidiarrheals), aminosides, immunosuppressants (corticoids and cyclophosphamide) or surgical intervention (in some extreme cases, subtotal colectomy may be necessary)
Several organizations have created a classification system.
One of them is the Ulcerative colitis-associated conditions, which includes:
Another classification system is the Montreal classification system, which classifies the disease in 4 main groups:
The two most common types of disease under this system are pancolitis and left-sided colitis, but not all types are exclusive to these two groups.
The most common types are:
Other types include:
Non-specific colitis is a rare disease that manifests itself as an inflammation of the colon. The cause is unknown, but it is believed that this disease may produce a hypersensitivity reaction in the body, since many patients have reported developing skin lesions after ingesting a toxic (or at least, an irritant) substance.
In the case of non-specific colitis, the most common symptoms are:
Other possible symptoms may include:
In some cases the disease may also cause fever and loss of weight.
The main diagnostic tools are colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, small bowel imaging, blood tests and stool analysis.
The main types of treatment are:
The main goal of treatment is to relieve the symptoms.
In some severe cases, part of the colon may have to be removed.
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