It is estimated that more than 750,000 people in North America are affected by ulcerative colitis (UC), according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Though there is no known ulcerative colitis cure, many people treat their ulcerative colitis with medications. Unfortunately, these treatments vary in effectiveness, and many patients continue to suffer from many painful symptoms.
However, a new ulcerative colitis treatment is available to help those who suffer from the debilitating condition. This treatment uses a patient’s own stem cells to help provide ulcerative colitis pain relief and healing. Could this stem cell ulcerative colitis treatment be right for you? Read on to learn more about ulcerative colitis, traditional treatment options, and the latest advances in stem cell therapy for ulcerative colitis.
What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that causes the body’s gastrointestinal tract to become unusually inflamed. Over time, this inflammation can cause damage to the GI tract. Like Crohn’s disease, acute ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), although there is a key difference when it comes to ulcerative colitis vs. Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis occurs only in the large intestine and rectum, while Crohn’s disease can impact any area of the GI tract but usually affects the small intestine.
Patients with ulcerative colitis usually develop it between the ages of 15 and 30, according to NIH. While several symptoms can indicate a patient has ulcerative colitis, the root problem is the inflammation and the pain and damage that come when it causes colon ulcers and sores to develop.
What is the Main Cause of Ulcerative Colitis?
Inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis are caused by defects in the immune system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Instead of the immune system protecting the body by attacking only foreign things like bacteria or viruses, the immune system becomes triggered by other elements, causing the gastrointestinal tract to become inflamed.
What are the Early Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis can be extremely painful to those who suffer from it. UC symptoms are the same as many of the signs of Crohn’s disease and may include:
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Frequent Diarrhea
- Stools containing blood, mucus or pus
- Rectal pain
How Serious is Ulcerative Colitis?
Apart from being a miserable condition to live with day to day, ulcerative colitis can have serious negative effects on a person’s health. A large amount of ongoing bleeding in the colon can cause anemia. The intestine can lose some of its ability to absorb nutrients and water, leading to unhealthy levels of weight loss. Increase inflammation can lead to problems in other parts of the body as well, including the liver, kidneys, eyes, joints, and skin.
Then there’s the big question: Can a person die from ulcerative colitis?
The answer is yes. People with ulcerative colitis are at greater risk of developing colon cancer, particularly if they have had ulcerative colitis for 8 years or longer or if their entire colon is inflamed. In rare instances, ulcerative colitis can cause toxic megacolon, where the colon widens and harbors a bacterial infection that can be deadly.
How is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed?
Physicians may use a colonoscopy along with imaging technology to form an ulcerative colitis diagnosis. They may also use blood tests or stool samples to rule out other possible causes for the inflammation, such as infection.
How to Treat Ulcerative Colitis
Is there a cure for ulcerative colitis? Unfortunately, there is no known ulcerative colitis cure, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. However, there is more than one kind of treatment for colitis, according to the CDC. The primary methods of ulcerative colitis treatment include medications such as steroids to fight against inflammation, and vaccinations to help prevent infections. In some cases, ulcerative colitis surgery may be required to remove the parts of the large intestine that have become damaged.
And then there are stem cells. According to an article published in the medical journal Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology, “stem cell therapy is emerging as a promising treatment alternative” that could avoid the pitfalls of medications, reduce the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, and reduce the need for surgery to treat ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
How do stem cells hold the key to ulcerative colitis treatment? Adult stem cells can be found circulating around inside our bodies, but they exist in particular abundance in our bone marrow and our adipose (fat) tissue. Stem cells also have a unique ability to produce or turn into whatever cells are needed to carry out repairs in the body: muscle cells, blood cells, tissue cells, etc. All that it takes to set this healing process in motion is to extract stem cells from one of the stores in a patient’s body, isolate the cells, and inject them back into the body wherever treatment is needed. The stem cells are then able to help repair and restore the cells and tissue at the injection site, leading to a potential reduction in pain and symptoms.
Stem cell therapy is not suitable for everyone, but it has shown promising results for a wide range of patients with various medical conditions. To learn more about stem cell therapy for ulcerative colitis and to find out whether you could be a candidate for this groundbreaking treatment, visit NSI Stem Cell today.