A swollen colon is a manifestation of chronic inflammatory conditions that affect the intestines and is thought to be caused by the body’s own immune system. Normally, the immune system is supposed to act as the first line of defense against bacteria and other foreign invaders to protect the body, but in an unknown twist, it instead attacks itself. In the case of inflammatory bowel conditions, it leads to swelling of intestinal tissue.
Disorders such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the most common examples of an inflammatory bowel condition and are thought to be attributed to an autoimmune reaction. Those affected often suffer from episodic symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhea, with researchers still attempting to find the precise cause of their occurrence.
Recent studies have uncovered some of the mystery behind these inflammatory conditions, with the involvement of a particular protein linked to their development called Bcl-3.
“With the help of our cooperation partners, we were able to demonstrate that the level of the Bcl-3 protein, which also plays a role in the development of various cancerous diseases, is elevated in the intestinal tract of colitis patients and is indeed a trigger of the disease,” said Dr. Nadine Hövelmeyer, head of the work group at the Mainz-based Institute for Molecular Medicine.
This protein was found to suppress the actions of regulatory T-cells (Tregs), which are responsible for preventing the over-reaction of the immune system. This results in the immune system to no longer be regulated, leading to the development of inflammatory bowel disorders, according to the researchers.
Further research is being conducted to search for new active agents that will prevent this process from occurring.
A swollen colon can have a variety of causes with your doctor having to do a multitude of different tests to help pinpoint the reasons for its development. Infections, blood flow problems, and immune system problems are all potential causes for a swollen colon. Direct contact with chemicals, such as during an enema, may also cause the condition.
The primary process for symptom development is due to inflammation. When the tissue layers of the colon become inflamed, it produces the symptoms commonly attributed to inflammatory bowel conditions.
The side that the inflammatory reactions occur can determine the diagnosis and potential treatments for that particular condition.
A swollen colon on the left side, also called the descending colon, may be caused by the following:
Also known as the ascending colon, pathology on the right side can be caused by the following:
Bothersome symptoms are often what prompt patients to seek the advice of a medical professional. Since a swollen colon has a variety of causes, your symptoms and how they present are important clues your doctor needs in order provide an accurate diagnosis. Knowing what is causing your symptoms will help you prevent them from becoming worse and prevent possible complications.
The following are symptoms commonly attributed to a swollen colon: