Nik Speakman health: Therapist’s life-threatening condition revealed – symptoms to spot

Nik Speakman was 19 when doctors gave him the news. The This Morning therapist, now 58, was in his teens when he began suffering tummy troubles, with daily episodes of bloating and diarrhoea. Before his 20th birthday he was misdiagnosed with internal piles, but his symptoms soon turned life-threatening.

Speaking to Express Health in Nik recalled: “One day I collapsed. I’d gone completely grey. I ended up in hospital and after a barium enema, one of the most painful experiences of my life, the consultant showed me an X-ray.

“My bowel looked as if someone had fired a shotgun at it. It was a mess.”

Nik was then diagnosed with ulcerative colitis by specialists.

Ulcerative colitis is a long-term condition where the colon and rectum become inflamed.

The main symptoms of the condition, according to the NHS, are:

  • Recurring diarrhoea, which may contain blood, mucus or pus
  • Tummy pain
  • Needing to empty your bowels frequently

You may also experience extreme tiredness (fatigue), loss of appetite and weight loss.

The health body adds: “The severity of the symptoms varies, depending on how much of the rectum and colon is inflamed and how severe the inflammation is.

“For some people, the condition has a significant impact on their everyday lives.”

During ulcerative colitis flare-ups, symptoms elsewhere in the body may ensue.

For example some people develop:

  • Painful and swollen joints (arthritis)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Areas of painful, red and swollen skin
  • Irritated and red eyes

In severe cases where a person has to empty their bowel six or more times a day, additional symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat
  • A high temperature (fever)
  • Blood in your stools becoming more obvious

It’s estimated ulcerative colitis affects about one in every 420, and affects women and men equally.

Drug treatment for colitis aims to reduce symptoms and control flare-ups, and then maintain remission once the disease is under control, according to Crohn’s & Colitis UK.

The charity explains: “This can mean that you need to take your medication on an ongoing basis, sometimes for many years.

“It is less likely that you will need only a short course of drugs.

“However if your condition is mild and limited to a small part of your colon, you may be able to stop treatment on advice from your doctor if you have been free of symptoms for a few years, and an endoscopy shows disease healing in the gut.”

The main types of drugs are:

  • Aminosalicylates (5-ASAs)
  • Corticosteroids (steroids)
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Biological drugs

If you have the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and you have not been diagnosed with the condition, see a GP as soon as possible.

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