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What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis is usually known as an inflammatory bowel disease causes long-lasting inflammation and sores in the digestive system. Ulcerative Colitis affects the inner lining of the large intestines (colon) and rectum. Most of the symptoms are seen to develop over time rather than suddenly. Ulcerative Colitis may be devastating and also life threating.


Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis


Symptoms and signs of Ulcerative Colitis may vary, but this depends on how serious the inflammation is and where it has occurred.


These are symptoms and signs of Ulcerative Colitis, depending on which part of the colon is inflamed:

  • Severe pain and cramps
  • Loss of weight
  • Tiredness
  • A high fever
  • Failure to grow, in children
  • Often having diarrhea that contains blood or pus
  • Pain in the rectal area
  • Inability to defecate or pass a stool

Ulcerative Colitis can affect different parts of the colon and people may have more severe symptoms. People who get Ulcerative Colitis at a younger age are likely to have more severe symptoms. This condition can be mild and limited to the rectum.


When do you need to see a doctor?


One should see a doctor when they see signs, such as:

  • A lot of blood in the stool
  • Having diarrhea often that does not respond to medication
  • Getting diarrhea during the night that awakens you from your sleep
  • Experience extremely high fevers that can be life threating

Causes of Ulcerative Colitis


The exact cause of Ulcerative Colitis is unknown however improper diet and stress have been found to aggravate the condition.

One main possible cause of Ulcerative Colitis is an immune system malfunction. The function of the immune system is to fight off bacterium and viruses that are invading the body. An abnormal response from the immune system can attack the cells in the digestive tract as well.

Heredity can also play a role in the Ulcerative Colitis, and this is more prevalent in people who have families who have the same disease.


Risk factors


Ulcerative Colitis affects around the same amount of women and men.

Risk factors may include:

  • Family history- If you have family members that have the same condition than you are at higher risk of contracting this condition.
  • Age- Ulcerative Colitis can occur at any age but most likely before the age of 30. Some people may also develop Ulcerative Colitis after the age of 60.
  • Race and ethnicity- Whites are at a higher risk of contracting this disease, but ulcerative can occur in any race. If a person is of Jewish descent, then your risk of contracting this disease is even higher.

Complications of Ulcerative Colitis

  • Severe bleeding
  • Liver disease, which is rare
  • A hole may develop in the colon
  • Inflammation of the skin, eyes and sores in the lining of the mouth.
  • A swollen colon
  • Dehydration
  • Bone loss
  • Blood clots in the veins

Diagnosing Ulcerative Colitis


The doctor will diagnose Ulcerative Colitis by asking about the symptoms that you are having. To confirm if you have been diagnosed with this condition, the following tests will need to be done:

  • A stool sample will be taken - If you have white blood cells in your stools, this can be an indication that you could probably have Ulcerative Colitis.
  • Blood tests- A blood test is done to check for anemia. Anemia is a condition where there are not enough red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues or can be done to check for signs of Ulcerative Colitis.
  • An X-Ray- If a patient has severe symptoms, then your doctor will do a standard x-ray of the abdominal area to indicate if any serious problems such as perforated colon are present.
  • Colonoscopy- This is an instrument used by your doctor to look at your whole colon with a thin, flexible, lighted tube that contains an attached camera at the end.

Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis


Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis is either drug therapy or surgery


Anti-inflammatory drugs:

  • Aminosalicylates- Sulfasalazine is effective in reducing the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis, but there are a number of side effects which includes digestive distress and headaches.
  • Corticosteroids- These drugs include prednisone and hydrocortisone. These are used mostly for moderate or severe Ulcerative Colitis and don’t react to other treatments. This drug also has a lot of side effects. Possible side effects include a swollen face, more facial hair growth, sweating at night and insomnia.

Surgery:

Surgery is a very effective and can remove Ulcerative Colitis, but this means removing your entire colon and rectum. This involves a procedure called, Ileoanal Anastomosis, which eliminates the need to wear a bag to take out loose  stools. The doctor may construct a pouch from the end of the small intestine. The pouch is then tied up to the anus, allowing you to expel waste relatively normal.

 

 

 

 

 

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