What Causes Ulcerative Colitis Flares?

uclersWhat causes Ulcerative Colitis (UC) flares is a mystery that University of Michigan researchers are working to solve.

It’s a challenging topic to study because flares can be unpredictable. We do know that when someone with Ulcerative Colitis has a specific infection, a Clostridium difficile infection, often called c.diff, they have a 50 percent chance of developing a flare in the next 180 days. We are studying why some people experience a flare and some do not.

C.diff infections are treated with antibiotics, which affect the normal diversity of bacteria in the gut. It’s believed that those who have flares do not reconstitute a normal level of bacteria in their gut after the treatment. Without that healthy balance of bacteria, they are more prone to a flare.

If we can determine exactly what is causing flares in this specific situation, we may be able to create a probiotic to help prevent those flares. We’re just getting started with this research and expect to be done in three years.

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Lighting fireworks for the 4th? Pick a ‘designated lighter’ & keep an eye on the kids

U-M burn prevention expert offers tips & urges early intervention for kids who play with fire

When it comes to fireworks, Karla Klas has seen it all. A young teen whose eye ruptured when a firework went off in his face. A kindergartner seriously burned by a sparkler that ignited his clothes. A middle-aged man who suffered horrifying facial injuries, when he lit fireworks after drinking more than a dozen beers.

Fireworks injuries - courtesy Consumer Product Safety Commission

Fireworks injuries – courtesy Consumer Product Safety Commission

So, as Fourth of July week rolls around, she and her colleagues are bracing for a new crop of fireworks-related injuries to roll in to the U-M Emergency Department and Trauma Burn Center. They care for the most seriously burned and injured patients in the state.

The number of patients injured by fireworks started to climb two years ago, when Michigan legalized the sale of more powerful fireworks in the state. More than 210 registered sellers of fireworks now offer everything from bottle rockets to aerial shells.

Nationally, fireworks hurt more than 7,400 people in the weeks leading up to and immediately after July Fourth. That’s 65 percent of all people hurt by fireworks all year.

“We’re really sending mixed messages to people, who think that because fireworks are legal, they’re safe,” says Klas, who runs the center’s prevention programs and serves as the national prevention committee chair for the American Burn Association. “Plus, local ordinances about when and where you can set them off are all over the map.”

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Women are More Prone to ACL Injuries

What Can You Do to Reduce Injury Risk?

Women are up to eight times more likely to suffer an ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, injury than men. The ACL is one of four ligaments in the knee that helps stabilize the knee during landing and cutting activities. An ACL injury can be season ending for an athlete and sideline an active person for months.ACL4.fw

The female anatomy is one reason why girls and women are more susceptible to ACL injuries. Females have a wider pelvis and a predisposition to being “knock-kneed”, which places increased force and stress on the ACL.  The ACL moves within a notch (the intercondylar notch) in the femur, which is narrower in females.  Because of this anatomical difference, the ACL is more likely to get pinched and tear or rupture.

Females generally have more flexibility and laxity than males.  Increases in hamstring flexibility leads to decreased dynamic control of the knee and places more force on the ACL and other ligaments. Estrogen also increases flexibility and may lead to stretching of the ACL, predisposing women to injury. Continue reading

The Pros and Cons of Probiotics

stk151177rkeA normal human digestive tract has about 400 different kinds of probiotics, which are bacteria that help maintain the normal balance of organisms in the intestines. Probiotics are found naturally in some foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and tempeh. There are also probiotic supplements on the market.

Eating foods that contain probiotics is good for your immune and digestive systems. It’s a good idea to incorporate these foods into your daily diet, especially if you have any gastrointestinal disorder, such as IBS or IBD. There are not bad side effects of probiotics, unless your immune system is compromised. The elderly, cancer patients and others who may be immunocompromised should consult with their healthcare provider before adding probiotics to their diet.

Probiotics can be helpful if you have experienced antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Taking antibiotics can wipe out the good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics help that bacteria repopulate. They are also useful after experiencing a Clostridium difficile infection, something many patients with ulcerative colitis experience. Research findings on the effectiveness of probiotic supplements are lacking, but research is ongoing. One probiotic strain, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, has been shown effective in research. If you are evaluating probiotic supplements, you want one that has colony forming units in the billions. That information will be on the supplement’s label.

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Feeling bloated, gassy, constipated? Simple adjustments can help

bIf you are feeling bloated, gassy or constipated, don’t despair. There are simple things you can do to diminish and eliminate symptoms. Being aware of foods and behaviors that cause and worsen digestive tract disturbances is a great first step. Read on for some simple solutions to your gastro woes.

Stop swallowing air

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic medicine to make gas dissolve into thin air (pun intended). But you can easily change behaviors that unknowingly produce gas. Any time you consciously or unconsciously swallow air—by doing things like chewing gum, smoking, drinking through a straw and eating quickly—you may increase gas within your GI tract.

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Capsule endoscopy: The ultimate disposable camera

Swallow this camera; watch what happens in your small intestine

It’s hard to believe any procedure could be a patient’s favorite, particularly when it comes to gastrointestinal procedures. But that’s exactly what a capsule endoscopy has become for patients who need it to diagnose digestive health issues.

The procedure involves swallowing a tiny camera the size of a jellybean. The camera travels down past the stomach and into the small intestine, the organ responsible for breaking your sandwich down into carbohydrates, proteins and fat.

Once there, the camera takes photos of your small intestine — 50,000 to 60,000 digital images — and the shots are transmitted into a recorder worn in a pouch strapped around your waist.

Images are then downloaded onto a computer.

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