An unusual link between ulcerative colitis and upper airway inflammation have been found by researchers.Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease - often known together as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) - involves inflammation of the lower gastrointestinal tract. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have now revealed a hitherto unexpected complication of IBD.
Two patients with ulcerative colitis developed serious upper airway inflammation. One involved the larynx - or voice box - the other the trachea, which is the tube leading from the nose to the lungs. Such inflammation leads to painful swallowing, hoarseness, shortness of breath. When examined, the airway looks red, swollen and maybe even ulcerated.
The first person in this study needed steroids while the other needed an emergency tracheotomy - insertion of a tube in the throat to bypass the obstructed segment of the airway. Airway inflammation like this can even be life-threatening, say the researchers. It's a rare complication of IBD,but is important for physicians.