What Happens Next? Catarrhal Colitis
If you find you have an inflammation of the lining of the colon, the knowledge of this situation prompts the question: “Where do we go from here?” Quite naturally you are interested in knowing what happens next. In many cases, the question occurs to your mind: “Can this possibly have something to do with the arthritis I am suffering from? Can this condition possibly lead to cancer?”
Please do not think that you are a hypochondriac if your mind is immediately assailed with such questions. Certainly it is a matter of normal prudence to inquire what you may expect. From our nursery days, it has been drilled into us that for the want of a nail the shoe is lost, for the want of a shoe, the horse is lost, and finally the rider himself is lost. With no more foreboding let’s pry into the usual course of this ailment.
In the first place there is always a beginning. In passing, I might say it is well to remember that the worst blazing house fire started as a mere flickering flame that a teacup of water would have put out.
The mildest type of a colitis is a catarrhal colitis. It is so-called because the membrane that lines the colon pours forth an abnormal amount of mucus, and this weeping is known as catarrh. The reason why the membrane pours forth this abnormal amount of mucus is that it is irritated. In the process of evolution the body has found that the way to get rid of an irritation is first to dilute it, and second, to wash it away. That is why you cry when you peel onions. The irritating vapor coming in contact with your eye membranes call forth the production of great quantities of tears, the lacrimal fluid, whose purpose it is to wash out and dilute irritating substances from the eye covering.
In much the same way this happens in the case of catarrhal inflammation of the colon. In this case, however, the fluid mixes with the intestinal content, gives rise to frequent movements and is known as diarrhea. Essentially, however, it is the same type of process as is involved in getting rid of irritating substances at the other end of the food digestion canal.
Should the cause of this inflammation be infective in nature or strongly irritating, the lining cells can be seriously damaged, and in localized areas death of the cells may occur, producing what is known as an ulcer. Here it is will be seen that all inflammatory conditions in the colon may be compared to a fire that spreads and consumes until it is put out. Indeed unless checked this process may run wild and the ulceration can become widespread. Or, at a point, where no medical man can be quite certain, the cells which are subject to constant irritation go beserk and lead to the formation of the abnormal cells which are known as cancer cells.
As an honest man, no physician can say this case of colitis will be cancer within two years or five years or any specified period of time because none of us knows exactly what causes cancer. However, there is one thing that we do know and that is that cancer never occurs in tissue which is normal. It never occurs except in tissue subjected to constantly recurring though often mild irritation.
Thus, though no doctor can honestly say that such and such a case will be cancerous if not treated, certainly no doctor of good sense can honestly say forget about it, it will never become cancerous. The sensible conclusion is that a person suffering from colitis should regard it as a serious threat to his health and should lose no time in trying to eradicate the ailment.
Nowhere in the field of health is the old adage “The whole is the sum of its parts” more true than in this case. Without a healthy colon, general good health simply is not possible!
“How long is it going to take me to get rid of this?” is almost the first question that a person asks when told that he is suffering from chronic catarrhal colitis. If it were possible to tell exactly how long he had had the ailment, it might be possible to foretell the approximate time it would take for him to recover.
One thing a person should realize right from the start, is that the development of this ailment has been most insidious. It has crept up upon him with scarcely any warning or none at all. However, this much can be said with certainty. There is no ailment that responds so promptly to appropriate measures as does this one. If the patient follows the correct diet, takes certain sedative and curative medicines, the response is very gratifying. Within a week or ten days, the symptoms have disappeared and the patient has entered what I consider the most dangerous phase of the ailment, namely the phase where he feels he is entirely well and can do as he damn well pleases!
Well, as a matter of fact, he may—but retribution will be swift and convincing. A relapse can occur within a few hours after a dietary indiscretion, and its severity will be in direct proportion to the extent to which he has strayed.
If any patient, therefore, is tempted to ask the question, “How long, oh how long?” he should also ask himself the question, “How true, oh how true will I be to my diet?” Written By: J. F. Montague, M.D., Continue Reading: How to Control Colitis