Ulcerative Colitis is the chronic condition in which inflammation and ulcers or sores develop in the lining of the large intestine (the colon or large bowel). When the inflammation affects the whole colon then this condition is called pancolitis and when it involves only some part of the colon or only the rectum then it is called proctitis. The exact cause of Ulcerative Colitis is still not known but certain factors may play a role in causing the disease and these include genetics, a defect in the immune system or presence of unidentified microorganisms. Ulcerative Colitis can affect men and women of any age group or race. Although the condition usually starts in young people, it may also affect elderly.
SYMPTOMS OF ULCERATIVE COLITIS
Ulcerative Colitis is a recurring disease which means that its symptoms usually come and go along with a time period without having these symptoms at all. The Ulcerative Colitis symptoms begin gradually with diarrhea that may become bloody sometimes and abdominal pain. When the condition becomes serious, the symptoms include frequent and severe diarrhea along with the loss of appetite and weight loss and as a result, the patient becomes very sick and weak. When the rectum is affected with the disease, the symptoms include rectal urgency and having a few stools with blood.
ULCERATIVE COLITIS DIAGNOSIS
In order to rule out the possibility of an infection, blood and stool tests are conducted. Usually, for diagnosing the Ulcerative Colitis, Colonoscopy is performed to visually examine the lining of the colon and biopsies may also be taken for a deep analysis of the characteristics of Ulcerative Colitis.
ULCERATIVE COLITIS COMPLICATIONS
Although most patients experiencing the disease show a good response to the treatment of ulcerative colitis, some patients may experience severe complications that need a complete bowel rest or hospitalization and even surgery may also require but it is very rare. Malnutrition is the complication of Ulcerative Colitis causing poor growth in children and young adults. Sometimes, the problems of eyes, skin, liver or joints may also occur. Also, bile ducts that carry bile from liver to the intestine can become narrow and partially block. If Ulcerative Colitis is left untreated for a long time period such as 8-10 years or it is developed in childhood or there is a family history of colon cancer, the risk of developing colon cancer increases. Fortunately, these complications can be avoided with regular check-ups and thorough examination of the colon that includes Colonoscopy or biopsies as these tests help to detect the disease at an early stage where it can be treated and cured effectively.
TREATMENT FOR ULCERATIVE COLITIS:
- The new Ulcerative Colitis treatment begins with anti-inflammatory drugs that are prescribed by the physician in pill form and some common of these drugs include Mesalamine (Asacol, Pentasa & Rowasa), Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) and Balsalazide (Colazal).
- Anti-inflammatory drugs also include steroids that may be prescribed to treat the disease as they are highly effective. But these should be taken strictly with doctor’s prescription because long-term use of steroids can cause harmful side effects.
- Disease modifying medications for Ulcerative Colitis such as immune system suppressors are also recommended but with caution because of their serious side effects. Some common of these medications include 6-MP (Purinethol), Azathioprine (Imuran), Methotrexate (Rheumatrex) and Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune).
- Another group of medications that are recently approved for the treatment of Ulcerative Colitis is Infliximab (Remicade). This medication blocks the inflammation response of the body and it is given through intravenous every eight weeks during the treatment.
- If the long-standing condition becomes so much complicated that it cannot be treated with medications then surgery is the right option. During the surgery, the entire colon and the rectum are removed. For the removal, usually, a method called ileostomy is performed in which a permanent opening is created in the abdomen from where the stool is collected in attached bag. An alternative method is also being used commonly in which the patient doesn’t need to wear ileostomy bag, instead, a pouch is constructed from the end of the small intestine and attached directly to the anus allowing expelling stool normally. With the surgical removal of the colon, the disease can be cured and the patient can live a healthy life.
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