Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which results in the irritation and chronic inflammation of your digestive tract. Unlike other gut-related illnesses, ulcerative colitis affects only the large colon and, in some cases, the rectum. This disease affects the innermost lining of both the colon and the rectum, often causing the formation of ulcers (also known as sores) which tend to bleed and excrete mucus or pus. It may also prompt frequent trips to the bathroom.
There are many ways to diagnose the disease. Blood tests can be performed to detect anemia and inflammation. On the other hand, stool samples may be taken to rule out infections or parasites of any sort. Additionally, your doctor can run several assessments, including a biopsy or colonoscopy, to better gauge the state of your digestive tract.
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?
The reason for ulcerative colitis is currently unknown. Studies have yet to pinpoint its exact cause. However, research has identified risk factors which may play a role in its development:
- Genetics. Although not all patients with ulcerative colitis have a relative diagnosed with the disease, it increases your risk of development if it runs in the family.
- Environment. Factors in your surroundings, such as bacteria and viruses, may trigger the onset of ulcerative colitis.
- Immune disorder. A possible malfunction in the immune system may lead to abnormal responses. This abnormality may cause the body’s natural line of defense to attack both healthy cells and the digestive tract itself.
The following are common symptoms of ulcerative colitis:
- Sudden weight loss
- Rectal pain and bleeding
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Diarrhea, often with blood or pus
- Unexplained and prolonged fever
- The urgency to defecate but the inability to do so
How to Treat Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis can cause a considerable amount of pain and undesirable symptoms. While there is no known cure, there are ways to ease your discomfort. Treatment can help reduce your symptoms and prevent more flare-ups, allowing the colon to heal.
- Diet. Certain foods may irritate the digestive tract. As such, eating a balanced diet of high fiber, lean protein, fruits and vegetables will go a long way in keeping your gut healthy. Additionally, foods high in probiotics can help boost the health of the colon’s good bacteria.
- Medicine. Certain kinds of medications may be prescribed, including antibiotics and biologics, to help with the condition. The former is for fighting infections while the latter suppresses the immune system’s function, keeping it from attacking the colon. Depending on the extent of the inflammation, anti-inflammatory drugs may also be prescribed. These drugs include medicines like aminosalicylates and corticosteroids.
- Surgery. In extremely severe cases, partial or complete removal of the colon or rectum, may be necessary to address the affliction.
Ulcerative colitis is a lifelong condition. Even though you may not exhibit symptoms for years, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are cured completely. As such, it’s essential to be conscious of healthy practices to ensure the digestive tract is in good shape. Don’t take abdominal discomfort and other symptoms, such as bloody stools, lightly.
While ulcerative colitis is not a life-threatening illness, it can lead to high-risk complications. Should you be experiencing any unusual gut pain or have other gut-related concerns, don’t hesitate to contact our team at Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates. We have a wealth of experience treating a variety of digestive diseases, including ulcerative colitis. Call (717) 245-2228 to make an appointment. You may also use our online request form to schedule an appointment.