Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune condition characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. As an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis can eventually damage the intestinal tract. The condition affects more than 750,000 people in the U.S. Although there are medications available to control symptoms, these vary in effectiveness, and many people experience pronounced discomfort when ulcers and sores develop in the gastrointestinal tract.
Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms & Causes
Ulcerative colitis can be challenging to diagnose, as it bears many of the same symptoms as Crohn’s disease, another IBD. These symptoms include:
- Abdominal discomfort, including pain and cramping
- Bloody stools
- Rectal pain
- Appetite and weight loss
The key difference between these conditions is that ulcerative colitis targets the large intestine and rectum, while Crohn’s can appear anywhere throughout the gastrointestinal tract.
In general, IBD is believed to be caused by immune system defects. In a healthy immune system, bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders trigger a reaction. Yet, in individuals with IBD, even non-threatening conditions cause an inflammatory reaction in the intestines.
Long-term intestinal issues can also impact health in other ways. For instance, people with IBD may experience nutrient deficiencies, anemia, and inflammation which appears in other areas of the body, such as the joints, eyes, liver, and kidney.
Stem Cell Therapy for Ulcerative Colitis
There are several treatments available to control the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. For example, steroids may be used to control severe inflammation. In certain cases, surgeries may be needed to remove particularly damaged sections of the intestines.
However, there is another alternative treatment option emerging in the field of regenerative medicine. Stem cell therapy has been reviewed and used to help reduce the need for surgery for IBD and Crohn’s disease, and can also help to control symptoms.
Stem cells can reproduce and differentiate into specialized cell types, including certain types of tissue. Because patients already have a wealth of these cells within the bone marrow and fat tissue, there is no challenge when it comes to sourcing them. There are also umbilical cord-derived tissue stem cells that are actively being researched as another source option. Stem cells have the potential to aid in cellular repair and restoration, thus minimizing discomfort and symptoms overall. While stem cell therapy is still in its early stage as an ulcerative colitis treatment, it holds the potential as an alternative treatment option for symptom improvements for ideal and approved candidates.
This post was written by Becky Palmer, a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine, also known as Stem Cell Therapy in Tampa. Regenerative medicine seeks to replace tissue or organs that have been damaged by disease, trauma, or congenital issues.