What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers in the colon.
It is a type of colitis, which is a group of diseases that cause inflammation of the colon, the largest section of the large intestine, either in segments or completely.
Ulcerative colitis has much in common with Crohn’s disease, another form of IBD, but what sets it apart from Crohn’s disease is that ulcerative colitis, as its name suggests, only affects the colon and rectum, leaving the rest of the gastrointestinal tract unscathed, while Crohn’s disease can affect the whole GI tract from mouth to anus.
Ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and sometimes can lead to life-threatening complications.
While it has no known cure, treatment can greatly reduce signs and symptoms of the disease and even bring about long-term remission.
Ulcerative colitis is classified according to how much of your colon is affected.
- The condition can be mild and limited to the rectum (ulcerative proctitis).
- It can affect additional parts of the colon, generally with more severe symptoms.
Causes of Ulcerative Colitis:
Although the underlying cause of Ulcerative Colitis is yet unknown, theories explaining the possible causes have been proposed.
- One possible cause is an immune system malfunction.
- When the immune system tries to fight off an invading virus or bacterium, an abnormal immune response causes the immune system to attack the cells in the digestive tract, too.
- Ulcerative colitis is more common in people who have family members with the disease.
- Environmental factor
Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis:
The following symptoms are exhibited by those who develop ulcerative colitis:
- Diarrhea, often with blood or pus
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Rectal pain
- Rectal bleeding — passing small amount of blood with stool
- Urgency to defecate
- Inability to defecate despite urgency
- Weight loss
- In children, failure to grow
- Joint pain or soreness
- Eye irritation
- Certain rashes
Diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis:
The following tests and exams help in confirming the diagnosis:
- Blood tests, to check for signs of infection.
- Stool sample.
- White blood cells in the stool can indicate Ulcerative Colitis.
- To rule out other disorders, such as infections caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites.
- Biopsy to confirm the diagnoses.
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy.
- X-ray, to rule out serious complications I case of severe symptoms.
- CT scan, to reveal how much of the colon is inflamed.
Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis:
There is no cure for Ulcerative Colitis.
Treatments aim at relieving signs and symptoms. They include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
o Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
o mesalamine (Asacol, Lialda, Rowasa, Canasa, others)
o balsalazide (Colazal)
o olsalazine (Dipentum)
- Immune system suppressors
- Azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran) and mercaptopurine (Purinethol, Purixam).
- Cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune).
- Infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira) and golimumab (Simponi).
- Vedolizumab (Entyvio).
- Other medications
- Pain relievers
- Iron supplements
By : Natural Health News