Colitis, ulcerative

Other names: IBD, Inflammatory bowel disease

Definition: Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract, specifically affecting the colon and rectum. It is a chronic condition with periods of remission and flare-ups.

Symptoms: Symptoms may include diarrhea with blood, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, urgency to defecate, weight loss, fatigue, and fever.

Causes: The exact cause is unknown but likely involves a combination of genetic, immune system, and environmental factors.

Risk Factors: Age, race or ethnicity, family history, and certain medications like isotretinoin may increase the risk of developing ulcerative colitis.

Complications: Complications can include severe bleeding, perforated colon, dehydration, liver disease, osteoporosis, inflammation in other parts of the body, increased risk of colon cancer, toxic megacolon, and blood clots.

Diagnosis: Diagnosis involves blood tests, stool sample analysis, colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, X-ray, and CT scan. Advanced techniques like CT enterography and chromoendoscopy may be used for diagnosis at specialized centers like Mayo Clinic.

Treatment: Treatment includes anti-inflammatory drugs like aminosalicylates and corticosteroids, immune system suppressors like azathioprine and infliximab, antibiotics for infections, pain relievers for discomfort, surgery in severe cases to remove the colon and rectum.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies: Dietary changes such as limiting dairy products and high-fiber foods may help manage symptoms. Stress management techniques like exercise and relaxation exercises can also be beneficial.

Alternative Medicine: Some people use complementary therapies like herbal supplements, probiotics, fish oil, aloe vera gel, acupuncture, and turmeric. However, evidence for their effectiveness is limited.

QUESTIONS

  1. What are the common symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

Common symptoms include diarrhea with blood, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, urgency to defecate, weight loss, fatigue, and fever.

  1. How is ulcerative colitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis involves blood tests, stool sample analysis, colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, X-ray, and CT scan.

  1. What are the risk factors for developing ulcerative colitis?

Risk factors include age (usually before 30), race or ethnicity (higher risk in whites), family history of the disease.

  1. Can stress trigger flare-ups in ulcerative colitis?

While stress doesn't cause ulcerative colitis directly, it can worsen symptoms and trigger flare-ups.

  1. Is there a cure for ulcerative colitis?

There is no known cure for ulcerative colitis but treatments can help manage symptoms and induce remission.

  1. What complications can arise from ulcerative colitis?

Complications may include severe bleeding, perforated colon, dehydration,

liver disease,

osteoporosis,

increased risk of colon cancer,

toxic megacolon,

blood clots.

  1. Are there any dietary recommendations for managing ulcerative colitis?

Limiting dairy products and high-fiber foods may help manage symptoms. Keeping a food diary can help identify trigger foods.

  1. What role does surgery play in treating ulcerative colitis?

Surgery may be necessary in severe cases to remove the colon and rectum. This can often eliminate ulcerative colitis.

  1. Are there any alternative treatments for ulcerative colitis?

Some people explore complementary therapies like herbal supplements,

probiotics,

fish oil,

acupuncture,

turmeric. However,

evidence for their effectiveness is limited.

  1. How often should screenings for colon cancer be done in individuals with ulcerative colitis?

Screening frequency depends on the extent of the disease but generally ranges from every one to two years if more than just the rectum is involved to every eight to ten years after diagnosis.