Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in your digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. Symptoms usually develop over time, rather than suddenly.
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis can vary depending on the severity of the inflammation and where it occurs.
Signs and symptoms can include :
- Diarrhea, often accompanied by blood or pus
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Rectal pain
- Rectal bleeding – a small amount of blood passes through stool
- Urgency to defecate
- Inability to deflate despite the emergency
- Weight loss
- In children stunted growth.
The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. Diet and stress used to be suspected, but now doctors know that these factors can make ulcerative colitis worse, but do not cause ulcerative colitis.
One possible cause is a dysfunction of the immune system. When your immune system tries to fight off an invading virus or bacteria, an abnormal immune response also causes the immune system to attack cells in the digestive tract.
Heredity also appears to play a role in making ulcerative colitis more common in people whose family members have the disease. However, most people with ulcerative colitis do not have this family history.
Doctors often classify ulcerative colitis based on its location. Types of ulcerative colitis include:
Ulcerative proctitis: Inflammation is limited to the area closest to the anus (rectum), and rectal bleeding can be the only sign of the disease.
Proctosigmoiditis: The inflammation affects the rectum and sigmoid colon – the lower end of the colon. The signs and symptoms include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, and an inability to move the bowel despite the urge (tenesmus)
Colitis on the left side: The inflammation extends from the rectum, across the sigmoid colon, and descends. Signs and symptoms include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain in the left side, and the urgency to have a bowel movement.
Pancolitis. This type often affects the entire colon and causes episodes of bloody diarrhea, which can be severe, abdominal cramps and pain, fatigue, and severe weight loss.
Treatment of UC has two main goals: The first is to make you feel better and give your colon a chance to heal. The second is to avoid further breakouts. You may need a combination of diet, medication, or surgery to achieve these goals.
Diet: Certain foods can make your symptoms worse. You may not mind sweet, bland food as much as spicy or high fiber food. If you can’t digest the sugar in milk called lactose (which means you are lactose intolerant), your doctor may ask you to stop consuming dairy products. A balanced diet high in fiber, lean protein, fruits and vegetables should provide enough vitamins and nutrients.
Drug: Your doctor may prescribe several types of medicines for you, including:
Antibiotics: These fight infections and allow your colon to heal.
Aminosalicylates. These drugs contain something called 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) that works to fight inflammation and help control symptoms. You may need to swallow pills or put an enema or suppository in your buttocks.
Corticosteroids: If the aminosalicylates don’t work or your symptoms are severe, your doctor may give you these anti-inflammatory drugs for a short time.
Immunomodulator: These help prevent your immune system from attacking your colon. They can take a long time to take effect. You may not notice any changes for up to 3 months.
Organic products. These are made from proteins in living cells instead of chemicals. They are intended for people with severe ulcerative colitis.
Loperamide. This can slow down or stop the diarrhea. Talk to your doctor before taking it.
Surgery: If other treatments don’t work, or if your UC is severe, you may need to have surgery to remove your colon (colectomy) or your large intestines and rectum (proctocolectomy). If you have a proctocolectomy, your doctor can make a small pouch out of your small intestine and attach it to your anus. This is called an ileal sac anal anastomosis (IPAA). This allows your body to discharge waste normally, so you don’t have to carry a bag to collect the stool.
Your doctor will use tests to see if you have UC instead of any other bowel disease.
Blood tests can show whether you have anemia or inflammation.
Stool samples can help your doctor rule out an infection or a parasite in your colon. They can also see if there is blood in your stool that you cannot see.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy allows your doctor to examine the lower part of your colon. You will insert a collapsible tube into your lower colon from the bottom. The tube has a small light and a camera on the end. Your doctor may also use a small tool to remove a piece of the lining of your lower colon. This is called a biopsy. A doctor in a laboratory will examine the sample under a microscope.
Colonoscopy is the same process as flexible sigmoidoscopy. Only your doctor will examine your entire colon, not just the lower part.
X-rays are less common in diagnosing the condition, but your doctor may want you to have one in special cases.
Ulcerative colitis affects roughly equal numbers of women and men. Risk factors can be:
Age: Ulcerative colitis usually starts before the age of 30. But it can appear at any age, and some people may not develop the disease until they are 60 years old.
Race or ethnicity: Although whites are at the highest risk of developing the disease, it can occur in any breed. If you are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, your risk is even higher.
Family history: You are at higher risk if you have a close relative such as B. a parent, sibling, or child with the disease.
When to see the doctor
Contact your doctor if your bowel habits change permanently, or if you have signs and symptoms such as:
- Stomach pain
- Blood in your stool
- Continuous diarrhea that does not respond to over-the-counter
- Diarrhea that wakes you up from sleep
- Unexplained fever that lasts for more than a day or two
The treatment is given for 12 months unless the medicine is not working well.