Ulcerative colitis is a serious matter that far too many individuals are suffering from – if you suspect that you have this condition, then you should take action right away. If you’re worried you may have it and you’ve decided to research this condition, you’ve made a wise choice. Luckily, there are ample resources online you can take advantage of (but as with all health matters you should always consult your doctor first).
What Is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that is accompanied by inflammation and ulcers in the large intestine .
There appears to be a lack of consensus on where this disease comes from, but one cause may be an immune system malfunction. Basically, it’s thought that ulcerative colitis is caused by abnormal immune response when the immune system attacks the cells that line the intestine.
Previously, it has been thought that stress and diet are the primary culprits of this condition. However, research has determined that these factors don’t cause ulcerative colitis, though they can aggravate an existing condition.
Many have believed that a tendency to eat fried foods daily (which can be harmful if done regularly ) is what caused ulcerative colitis, however recent research suggests this is likely not the case. Of course, minimizing stress and the intake of unhealthy foods is still a cornerstone of any healthy lifestyle.
Types Of Ulcerative Colitis
There are 5 types of ulcerative colitis :
- Ulcerative proctitis. This is the mildest form of ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative proctitis is only in the rectum, and rectal bleeding is its primary symptom.
- This condition occurs in the rectum and lower end of the colon (called sigmoid colon). Proctosigmoiditis is typically accompanied by pain, belly cramps, diarrhea, and an urge to defecate.
- Left-sided colitis. This type of ulcerative colitis causes cramps on the left side of the belly. Left-sided colitis may also be accompanied by weight loss and bloody diarrhea.
- Pancolitis often affects the entire colon, causing belly cramps, pain, fatigue, major weight loss, and bloody diarrhea.
- Acute severe ulcerative colitis. This one also affects the entire colon, but it is accompanied by more severe symptoms, such as heavy diarrhea or fever.
If you have any of these symptoms, then you should address your doctor as soon as you can.
Symptoms Of Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis has many symptoms , including but not limited to:
- Cramping belly pain.
- Sudden urge to defecate.
- Weight loss.
- Dehydration and malnutrition.
- Joint pain or soreness.
- Diarrhea, especially with blood.
- Rectal pain.
Needless to say, you shouldn’t diagnose your condition on your own – as with all health issues, you should always consult your doctor.
How Is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed?
Once you do get in touch with your doctor, they will ask you about general health, symptoms, and examine your medical history . The doctor may also check for tenderness in the belly (which is caused by inflammation) or paleness (caused by anemia).
Next, your doctor will check your stool samples to rule out parasites or infection and confirm ulcerative colitis.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy are often used to diagnose ulcerative colitis as well. These allow the doctor to have a look at your colon to examine the level and extent of inflammation.
In some cases, X-rays or CT scans are taken too to rule out serious complications.
As you can see, diagnosing ulcerative colitis isn’t something you can do yourself at home. If you suspect that you have ulcerative colitis, you should act now and get in touch with a doctor.
How Is Ulcerative Colitis Treated?
Ulcerative colitis may be treated with :
- Medications such as mesalamine (Asacol and Lialda), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), or balsalazide (Colazal).
- Biologics such as infliximab (Remicade), vedolizumab (Entyvio), or ustekinumab (Stelara).
- A diet incorporating low amounts of fat and added fiber and vitamin C.
Ulcerative Colitis VS Irritable Bowel Syndrome VS Crohn’s Disease
Ulcerative colitis is sometimes mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease by non-doctors. In reality, these conditions are quite distinct and can be told apart from each other with relative ease :
- Ulcerative colitis only affects the large intestine and its lining.
- Irritable bowel syndrome doesn’t cause inflammation or ulcers. Rather, it is a problem with intestine muscles.
- Crohn’s disease causes inflammation but can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, not just the large intestine.
Don’t Delay Action Any Longer
If you suspect that you have ulcerative colitis, then you should start taking action right now. Ulcerative colitis may start mild and slow, but it will progress rapidly if you leave it be without any treatment.
Like with many other diseases, it’s easy to neglect minor symptoms at first. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make – if your symptoms make you believe that you have ulcerative colitis, then don’t wait any longer.
- “Ulcerative colitis”, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ulcerative-colitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353326.
- “How Bad for You Are Fried Foods?”, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20170622/how-bad-for-you-are-fried-foods.
- “Ulcerative Colitis (UC)”, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/ibd-crohns-disease/ulcerative-colitis/what-is-ulcerative-colitis.
- “Ulcerative colitis: Diagnosis”, NHS UK, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ulcerative-colitis/diagnosis/.
- “What Is Ulcerative Colitis?”, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/ulcerative-colitis.