Ulcerative colitis is defined as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in the gastrointestinal tract. It affects the colon (the innermost lining of large intestine) and rectum. Ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and in some cases, lead to life-threatening complications. Although there is no known cure for this disease as of yet, treatment can significantly help in reducing the signs and symptoms of the disease and can also bring about long-term remission. Ulcerative colitis has a close connection to another condition of intestine inflammation called Crohn’s disease. Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s diseases are chronic conditions. Crohn’s disease may cause inflammation at any point in the GI tract, including layers of the bowel wall. It is not limited to the GI tract and might affect the liver, skin, eyes, and joints. On the other hand, ulcerative colitis may only affect the lining of the colon (large bowel) and rectum.
Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis normally develop overtime rather than suddenly. Its symptoms may vary depending on the severity of inflammation and the location of the inflammation. Some of the most common sign and symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:
- Diarrhoea, often associated with blood or pus
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Rectal pain
- Rectal bleeding – passing of small amount of blood with stool
- Inability to defecate despite urgency
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Ulcerative Colitis Types
The type of ulcerative colitis depends on the location of the inflammation in the body. Types of ulcerative colitis include:
- Ulcerative Proctitis – It is the mildest form among all ulcerative colitis types. Inflammation is confined to the rectum, which is the area closest to the anus. Rectal bleeding might be the only sign of ulcerative proctitis.
- Proctosigmoiditis – It involves the inflammation of the rectum and sigmoid colon — the lower end of the colon. Signs and symptoms of this condition include bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain and cramps, and difficulty in moving bowels despite the urge to do so (tenesmus).
- Left-sided Colitis – In this condition, the inflammation extends from the rectum up through the lower end of the colon (sigmoid) and descending colon. Its signs and symptoms include bloody diarrhoea, abdominal cramping and pain on the left side, and urgency to defecate.
- Pancolitis – This type of ulcerative colitis usually affects the entire colon. It may cause severe bouts of bloody diarrhoea, fatigue, abdominal cramps and pain, and significant weight loss.
Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis
If a person is expected to be suffering from ulcerative colitis, the doctor will inquire about the person’s symptoms and medical history. The doctor may use several tests to diagnose ulcerative colitis and rule out other disorders similar to ulcerative colitis, such as Crohn’s disease. Some of the ulcerative colitis diagnosis tests include:
- Blood tests – This helps in detecting if the patient has anaemia or inflammation.
- Stool test – This test can help rule out any infection or the cause of infection, such as bacteria, virus, or parasite in the colon. It can also confirm if there’s blood in the stool that wasn’t visible before.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy – This test lets doctors look at the lower part of the colon. A bendable tube is inserted into the lower colon through the bottom. The tube is equipped with a camera and a small light on the end. Doctors might also use a small tool to take a tissue sample of the lining of the lower colon for analysis. This is called a biopsy. The sample is taken to a laboratory and examined under a microscope.
- Colonoscopy – This test is quite similar to flexible sigmoidoscopy. Here doctors examine the whole colon and not just the lower part.
- Endoscopy – In this test, doctors use a flexible tube to check the stomach, oesophagus, and small intestine.
- X-ray – Standard X-ray of the abdominal area helps point out some severe complications, such as perforated colon.
- CT scan – This is a specialized X-ray of the abdomen and pelvis. The scan can also reveal severity of colon inflammation if any.
Ulcerative Colitis Treatment
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disorder, and without treatment, it can become worse over time. The treatment for this disorder may involve two main goals. The first is to make patients feel better and give their colons a chance to heal. The second goal is to prevent more outbursts. To achieve this, patients may have to undergo some changes in their diet, lifestyle, and medication as prescribed by doctors.
Doctors may prescribe a few different kinds of drugs that may improve healing and help fight infections, inflammation and control the symptoms. Drugs that stop the immune system’s attack on the colon may also be prescribed.
For most patients, ulcerative colitis is a long-term (chronic) condition. They might have flares and periods with no symptoms at all. However, with proper care and treatment, ulcerative colitis can be managed properly and effectively.
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Ulcerative colitis - Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis And Treatment
Ulcerative colitis is defined as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in the gastrointestinal tract. It affects the colon (the innermost lining of large intestine) and rectum.
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