Distal Ulcerative Colitis: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments

Distal Ulcerative Colitis: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory condition of the colon or parts of the colon. In left-sided ulcerative colitis, as the name suggests, the inflammation occurs only on the left side of the colon. Medically, it is also known as distal ulcerative colitis. The symptoms of this disease are very similar to that of ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms Of Left-Sided Ulcerative Colitis

Cramping pain in the left side of the abdomen is a symptom of distal ulcerative colitis

Since the condition affects the colon, the most common symptom is bowel discomfort or unusual bowel movements. Damage and irritation to the rectum can make you feel a constant need to poop. Some of the typical symptoms include the following:

  • Cramping pain in the abdomen (usually on the left side)
  • Fatigue or extreme tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling feverish or unwell
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Rectal spasms

Sometimes, patients with this condition may observe bloody stools. If you’re passing more than six (bloody) stools every day, consult a doctor as it indicates a serious damage to the colon.1

Causes And Risk Factors For Left-Sided Ulcerative Colitis

Stomach infections may increase the risk of distal ulcerative colitis

Doctors are unclear about what causes this inflammatory condition. However, they believe that it is caused due to an autoimmune disorder that has an adverse effect on the digestive system. Anyone can be affected by left-sided ulcerative colitis, but the following factors can increase the risk:

  • Family history of ulcerative colitis
  • Previous infections of the digestive system
  • Geographical factors like living away from the equator
  • Triggers like stress or an unhealthy diet

If you observe any one or more of these symptoms for over a week, get yourself checked. If the doctor suspects the presence of a colon damage, you will be advised to go through some tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Diagnosing Left-Sided Ulcerative Colitis

Doctors use a procedure called endoscopy to confirm ulcerative colitis

To confirm the presence of any type of ulcerative colitis, you might have to go through a procedure called endoscopy. Here, lighted cameras will be passed through the colon to view the insides of the organ, which will help detect any abnormality. Doctors identify the severity of the condition based on the redness, edema (presence of excess watery fluid), or any other irregularities in the lining of the colon. In left-sided colitis, only a part of the colon (the left side) will show irregularities, and the colon will become normal past the splenic flexure (the sharp bend between the extended colon and the descending colon).

Unfortunately, once diagnosed with left-sided ulcerative colitis, patients may face symptoms of the disease throughout their lives. The treatment options depend on these symptoms and the severity of the disease.

Natural Remedies For Left-Sided Ulcerative Colitis

 Natural Treatments For Left-Sided Ulcerative Colitis

As mentioned earlier, depending on the severity, doctors prescribe medications to bring down the symptoms of the disease, such as inflammation.2 Since the condition primarily affects the colon or the digestive system, natural remedies may help ease the condition. The response to these natural remedies may vary from person to person and should be tried only with a doctor’s consent.

The following herbal medicines have been used to treat ulcerative colitis and may be used to treat left-sided ulcerative colitis as well.

1. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera is a popular herb that has been used for treating multiple conditions of the skin. But studies show its value even in the treatment of ulcerative colitis due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Taking aloe vera gel (approximately 200 ml daily) orally may reduce colonic inflammation.3

2. Indian Frankincense

Indian frankincense, an ayurvedic herb derived from the resin of the plant, has traditionally been used to treat ulcerative colitis. The presence of boswellic acids in the herb is believed to help ease the symptoms of an inflamed colon. Studies report that the intake of the resin preparation (350 mg thrice daily) produce positive results in treating ulcerative colitis.4 Note that the dosage may vary depending on the severity of the inflammation.

3. Licorice

Licorice, derived from the root of the plant, may be an effective natural remedy in treating ulcerative colitis. Its anti-inflammatory properties and soothing effects can ease the inflammation of the colon. Licorice is available in the form of extracts or capsules. However, it is important to discuss the dosage with your doctor.5

4. Wheatgrass Juice

Wheatgrass juice, which has been traditionally used to treat diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, can also be used to relieve left-sided ulcerative colitis. The juice induces significant positive changes in rectal bleeding and bowel movements, thus helping treat colitis.6

5. Tormentil Extracts

Tormentil is a member of the rose family and its extracts contain a high content of tannins that behave as an anti-inflammatory agent. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it may be beneficial in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Tormentil has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of diarrhea. The extracts are taken orally and have negligible side effects.7

6. Turmeric

Curcumin is a compound in turmeric (Curcuma longa) that has been reported to have anti-inflammatory properties that also act on the stomach or intestinal walls.8 This Indian spice, in its powder form, can be added to foods while cooking or taken in the form of capsules under a doctor’s supervision.

Apart from the medical and herbal treatments, a healthy lifestyle comprising a balanced diet with regular exercise and stress management can help ease the effects of ulcerative colitis. Always follow the prescribed medications and talk to your doctor before introducing a new remedy to your existing treatments.