Ulcerative Colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the colon.
The inflammation can lead to ulcers, pus, or bleeding in the colon.
Sometimes, it can cause diarrhea with blood and mucus.
It’s not the same as Crohn’s Disease which also affects the colon but usually doesn’t lead to ulcers or bloody stools.
Ulcerative Colitis is chronic, meaning it will last indefinitely.
Left untreated, Ulcerative Colitis can eventually damage the colon and make it unable to absorb nutrients from food.
While there is currently no cure for Ulcerative Colitis, there are treatments available.
Let us look at Ulcerative Colitis in depth with some more information on the symptoms, causes, diagnosing thereof and treatment options.
Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms
Symptoms may also include:
– Mouth sores
– Hair loss
– Weight loss
– Swollen ankles
– Swollen legs and feet
– Tenderness and inflammation of the palms and soles
– Ulcerations in the anus
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term for the following conditions: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
These are diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
When to See a Doctor for Symptoms of
– Symptoms of the disease include persistent diarrhea
– Rectal bleeding
– Abdominal pain
The pain is typically worse when eating and in the evenings.
Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35, although the average age is 32.
The Causes of Ulcerative Colitis
While the exact cause is unknown, it’s likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
These include exposure to stress and poor diet.
One way the disease affects the body is by overstimulating the immune system and activating the immune cells in the colon.
The body then sends white blood cells to attack the lining of the colon.
Other causes as the disease becomes more severe, it also becomes more likely that other complications will occur.
Complications can include:
– Inflammation of the liver
– Inflammation of the spine
– Bowel obstruction
– Colitis in the eye
In rare cases, it can cause cancer in other parts of the body like the pancreas.
Some of these complications may become apparent long before any symptoms arise.
How to Diagnose Ulcerative Colitis
If a person develops symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis, they should visit a doctor.
The doctor will ask about symptoms, medical history, and family medical history.
The doctor may also order a stool analysis or colonoscopy to see how the disease is progressing.
When the doctor examines the colon, they may also order blood tests to check for signs of inflammation.
If the colon shows signs of ulceration, blood, and mucus, the doctor may ask questions about treatment and come up with a treatment plan.
Depending on the severity of the disease, the doctor may recommend surgery, cortisone injections, or other treatments.
Treating ulcerative colitis can be a long process. Over time, medication can help manage symptoms.
In addition to medication, surgery is another option in severe cases.
Can Ulcerative Colitis Be Prevented
Doctors can control the disease by controlling inflammation in the body.
When the immune system attacks the body, it starts damaging the cells and lining of the colon.
The cause is still unknown, but researchers believe that diet, gut bacteria, and genetics all play a part in the disease.
Many people with the disease say that things like stress, viruses, and bacterial infections can trigger flare-ups.
One reason it’s so hard to diagnose inflammatory bowel disease is because there isn’t one clear-cut sign or symptom.
Prevention through Medication
Drug therapy as a method of preventing the effects of ulcerative colitis involves the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, and immunosuppressive drugs.
Anti-inflammatory drugs reduce inflammation caused by various diseases of the intestine, and therefore, first of all, drugs doctors usually prescribe to patients with ulcerative colitis.
Prevention through Probiotics
You may have already heard the term “probiotics” when looking for methods for the prevention of ulcerative colitis.
This applies to live bacteria, which you can easily find in yogurt, miso soup, and sauerkraut, which can bring health benefits to the consumer.
The theory behind the use of probiotics in the treatment of ulcerative colitis is that the “good bacteria” in the foods in question prevent the adhesion of “bad bacteria” to the walls of the colon and affect the patient’s quality of life.
Types of Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis
There are three types of treatment available: medication, physical therapy, and dietary changes.
Physical therapy is to loosen the muscles in the colon to allow for better movement of the intestines.
Medication for Ulcerative Colitis
Medications for ulcerative colitis can suppress inflammation of the colon and heal tissues.
Symptoms such as diarrhea, bleeding, and abdominal pain can also be reduced and controlled with effective medications.
In addition to controlling and suppressing symptoms (causing remission), medications can also be used to reduce the frequency of symptom exacerbations (maintaining remission)
With proper treatment over time, periods of remission can be extended, and periods of exacerbation of symptoms can be reduced.
Today, various drugs are used to treat ulcerative colitis
Diet and Nutrition
The main medications used to treat Ulcerative Colitis include steroids and immunosuppressant medications such as biologics.
However, in order to get the most out of these treatments, you should follow a strict diet that includes a lot of vegetables, fiber, and fruit.
While it’s important to eat more vegetables and fiber than you might think is possible, more is not better.
It’s common for people on steroids to eat large amounts of food, especially carbs. It’s important to balance out your diet when you are taking steroids.
Most doctors will recommend low-glycaemic foods when you’re taking steroids to avoid weight gain and increase your metabolism.
Steroids can cause many unpleasant side effects including weight gain, high blood sugar, and mood swings.
Alternative Therapy and Home Remedies
There is currently no cure for Ulcerative Colitis, but there are treatments available to ease symptoms.
In many cases, these treatments include taking steroids and other drugs. Doctors may also recommend nutritionist and supplements such as Omega 3s and probiotics.
In some cases, these treatments include additional lifestyle changes like losing weight, taking probiotic supplements, and changing your diet.
Consult a Colorectal Specialist if you have symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis or other inflammatory bowel diseases.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, probiotics are “live micro-organisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.
There are plenty of symptoms to look out for, and doctors can usually diagnose ulcerative colitis just by examining your colon and symptoms.
They may use a procedure called colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.
At a doctor’s office, your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube into your rectum that will then travel through your colon and into your large intestine.
During the procedure, your doctor will look for the disease. If there are ulcers or bleeding in your colon, they may remove the impacted tissue.
With no cure currently available, medications are the only treatment available to prevent complications from the disease.
People with Ulcerative Colitis can have complications, such as colon cancer or polyps, which can need to be removed.
For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of Ulcerative Colitis conditions in Johannesburg, contact Dr. Schneider or visit www.gidocjhb.co.za and book your consultation today.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.