HEALTH CONDITIONS

A comprehensive list of today's common ailments and health conditions.

Ulcerative Colitis

By Shannon Pierce

Ulcerative Colitis

 

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes continuous inflammation and ulcers in your digestive tract. The disease affects the innermost lining of the colon, and rectum. Ulcerative colitis can be serious and sometimes can lead to life-threatening issues.

 

Symptoms

 

Symptoms typically develop over time, rather than suddenly. Symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of inflammation and where it occurs. Physicians often classify ulcerative colitis according to its location in the body. Depending on which part of the colon is inflamed, those affected may experience rectal pain, rectal bleeding, blood in their stools, diarrhea containing blood or pus, severe urges to move bowels, weight loss, fever, fatigue, constipation, and children experiencing the disease may have trouble growing at a normal rate.

 

Causes

 

The exact cause of ulcerative colitis remains unknown. At one point, poor diet and high stress levels were suspected to be one of the causes, but doctors determined that those lifestyle habits only make the disease worse instead of causing it. Heredity also can play a role in that ulcerative colitis is more common in people who have family members with the disease. An additional potential cause is when the immune system tries to fight off an invading virus or bacterium, an abnormal immune response causes the immune system to attack the cells in the digestive tract, too.

 

 

Diagnosis

 

Your family doctor or general physician may recommend you see a specialist who treats digestive diseases (gastroenterologist).To help rule out other causes of a patient’s signs and symptoms, you may have one or more of the following tests and procedures: stool samples, blood tests, colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, x-ray, CT scan.

 

Treatment

 

Treatment for ulcerative colitis typically involves either drug therapy or surgery.

Several types of drugs may be effective in treating ulcerative colitis. The appropriate drug for each individual patient will depend on the severity of their condition. Certain drugs that work well for some people may not work for others, so different medications may need to be tested over time. Also, since some drugs have serious side effects, patients will need to weigh the benefits and risks of any type of treatment. Some drug treatments include: anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, immune system suppressors, antibiotics, pain relievers, anti diarrheal medicine. Surgery would require removing the entire colon and rectum and the patient would need to wear a bag to collect stools. 


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