Autoimmune diseases arise from an abnormal immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body (autoimmunity). This may be restricted to certain organs (e.g. in autoimmune thyroiditis) or involve a particular tissue in different places (e.g. Goodpasture's disease which may affect the basement membrane in both the lung and the kidney). The treatment of autoimmune diseases is typically with immunosuppression—medication that decreases the immune response. A large number of autoimmune diseases are recognised.
Abdominal pain (or stomach ache) is a common symptom associated with transient disorders or serious disease. Diagnosing the cause of abdominal pain can be difficult, because many diseases can cause this symptom. Most frequently the cause is benign and/or self-limiting, but more serious causes may require urgent intervention.
Ulcerative colitis (Colitis ulcerosa, UC) is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis is a form of colitis, a disease of the colon (large intestine), that includes characteristic ulcers, or open sores. The main symptom of active disease is usually constant diarrhea mixed with blood, of gradual onset. IBD is often confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Ulcerative colitis has similarities to Crohn's disease, another form of IBD. Ulcerative colitis is an intermittent disease, with periods of exacerbated symptoms, and periods that are relatively symptom-free. Although the symptoms of ulcerative colitis can sometimes diminish on their own, the disease usually requires treatment to go into remission. Ulcerative colitis has an incidence of 1 to 20 cases per 100,000 individuals per year, and a prevalence of 8 to 246 per 100,000 individuals.
Crohn's disease, also known as Crohn syndrome and regional enteritis, is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, causing a wide variety of symptoms. It primarily causes abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is severe), vomiting, or weight loss, but may also cause complications outside the gastrointestinal tract such as anemia, skin rashes, arthritis, inflammation of the eye, tiredness, and lack of concentration. Crohn's disease is caused by interactions between environmental, immunological and bacterial factors in genetically susceptible individuals. This results in a chronic inflammatory disorder, in which the body's immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract possibly directed at microbial antigens. While Crohn's is an immune related disease, it does not appear to be an autoimmune disease (in that the immune system is not being triggered by the body itself). The exact underlying immune problem is not clear; however it may be an immune deficiency state.
There is a genetic association with Crohn's disease, primarily with variations of the NOD2 gene and its protein, which senses bacterial cell walls. Siblings of affected individuals are at higher risk. Males and females are equally affected. Smokers are two times more likely to develop Crohn's disease than nonsmokers. Crohn's disease affects between 400,000 and 600,000 people in North America. Prevalence estimates for Northern Europe have ranged from 27–48 per 100,000. Crohn's disease tends to present initially in the teens and twenties, with another peak incidence in the fifties to seventies, although the disease can occur at any age. There is no known pharmaceutical or surgical cure for Crohn's disease. Treatment options are restricted to controlling symptoms, maintaining remission, and preventing relapse. The disease was named after gastroenterologist Burrill Bernard Crohn, who, in 1932, together with two other colleagues at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, described a series of patients with inflammation of the terminal ileum, the area most commonly affected by the illness.
Digestion is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into smaller components that are more easily absorbed into a blood stream, for instance. Digestion is a form of catabolism: a breakdown of large food molecules to smaller ones.
In the human digestive system, food enters the mouth and mechanical digestion of the food starts by the action of mastication, a form of mechanical digestion, and the wetting contact of saliva. Saliva, a liquid secreted by the salivary glands, contains salivary amylase, an enzyme which starts the digestion of starch in the food. After undergoing mastication and starch digestion, the food will be in the form of a small, round slurry mass called a bolus. It will then travel down the esophagus and into the stomach by the action of peristalsis. Gastric juice in the stomach starts protein digestion. Gastric juice mainly contains hydrochloric acid and pepsin. As these two chemicals may damage the stomach wall, mucus is secreted by the stomach, providing a slimy layer that acts as a shield against the damaging effects of the chemicals. At the same time protein digestion is occurring, mechanical mixing occurs by peristalsis, which is waves of muscular contractions that move along the stomach wall. This allows the mass of food to further mix with the digestive enzymes.
In medicine, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. The major types of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Human feces (or faeces; Latin: fæx), also known as stool, is the waste product of the human digestive system including bacteria. It varies significantly in appearance, according to the state of the digestive system, diet and general health. Normally stool is semisolid, with a mucus coating. Small pieces of harder, less moist feces can sometimes be seen impacted on the distal (leading) end. This is a normal occurrence when a prior bowel movement is incomplete, and feces are returned from the rectum to the intestine, where water is absorbed. Meconium (sometimes erroneously spelled merconium) is a newborn baby's first feces.