Mycotoxicosis & ulcerative colitis

Written by corey mchargue
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Mycotoxicosis & ulcerative colitis
(understanding ulcers image by Keith Frith from Fotolia.com)

Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is the name of a group of conditions that causes inflammation of the intestines. The inflammation lasts a long time and is usually a chronic condition. Ulcerative colitis, along with Crohn's Disease, is an inflammatory bowel disease. There is a link between mycotoxins, found in fungi, and ulcerative colitis.

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Mycotoxicosis

Mycotoxicosis is a condition that is caused by exposure to fungus, typically through food products that have been contaminated. Simply, moulds produce mycotoxins. Though unseen by the naked eye, these toxins are ingested and then enter the body through the skin, mucous and airways. After the toxins have entered the body, they are able to colonise and spread and can compromise the immune system and damage everyday processes of the body.

Mycotoxicosis can be very harmful to the human body. In some extreme cases, exposure to mycotoxins can cause death, though more commonly this exposure can lead to chronic illness that are the result of the mycotoxins damaging the kidneys and liver. Damage of the immune system and digestive system are also a result of exposure to mycotoxins.

Symptoms of Mycotoxicosis

There are many symptoms of mycotoxicosis and it is difficult to pinpoint specific symptoms associated with this condition. Most of the symptoms centre around the respiratory system and include respiratory distress, coughing, wheezing, sneezing and sinusitis. Many of the symptoms appear as asthmatic signs, such as shortness of breath and burning in the lungs. Other symptoms centre around the digestive system and can include irritable bowel syndrome with severe diarrhoea and major cramping.

Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing or choking or burning in the lungs. More of the severe symptoms can effect the nervous system and can lead to memory loss, brain fog, slurred speech and vision problems.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. It is characterised by abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and sometimes can lead to life-threatening complications. Ulcerative colitis usually affects only the innermost lining of the large intestine and rectum.

Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulcers in the intestine and usually affects one continuous section of the inner lining of the colon beginning with the rectum. It is unclear as to what causes ulcerative colitis. Some scientists think a virus or bacteria may trigger ulcerative colitis. The digestive tract becomes inflamed as the body attempts to fight off the virus or bacteria. Scientists also suspect that genetic make-up may play a contributing role.

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of inflammation and where it occurs.

There are several signs and symptoms that may accompany ulcerative colitis when it only affects the rectum, including rectal bleeding. Rectal pain, a feeling of urgency or an inability to move the bowels in spite of the urge to do so is another symptom. This form of ulcerative colitis tends to be the mildest. Bloody diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and pain are symptoms of ulcerative colitis that affects the lower part of the colon and rectum. When the entire colon is affected, bouts of bloody diarrhoea that may be severe, abdominal cramps and pain, fatigue, and significant weight loss are common symptoms.

Fulminant colitis is a rare, life-threatening form of ulcerative colitis that affects the entire colon. Symptoms of fulminant colitis includes severe pain, profuse diarrhoea, dehydration and shock. Fulminant colitis carries the risk of serious complications, including colon rupture and toxic megacolon, which occurs when the colon becomes severely distended.

The Connection

Though research is limited, it is beleived that the ingestion of mycotoxins can lead to IBD, including ulcerative colitis. Mycotoxins are known to affect numerous tissues and organs in the human body, including the intestinal tract. Though the potential link between the two has not been highly investigated, mycotoxins induce intestinal alterations that are similar to those observed in people with IBD.

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