Ulcerative Colitis: What You Should Know
Along with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis is one of the two main types of irritable bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis is a chronic gastrointestinal condition that results in sores and inflammation of the inner lining of the large intestines (colon) and rectum.
It’s common for symptoms of ulcerative colitis to appear gradually over time, and the severity of symptoms can vary. Some people may only experience minor bouts of inflammation while for others, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis can be serious and incapacitating.
Common signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis include,
- Blood or pus in the stool
- Diarrhea or watery stools
- Abdominal cramping and pain
- Rectal pain
- Trouble defecating
It is possible for many people with ulcerative colitis to experience long bouts of remission, in which they don’t experience any symptoms; however, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, it’s important that you see a gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on. Any changes in bowel habits that persist for weeks require an evaluation.
Ulcerative colitis should be taken seriously and it’s important that if you suspect that you might have it that you see a doctor, as untreated ulcerative colitis can cause potentially life-threatening health complications. While there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, there are many ways in which our team of experts can help you manage your IBD.
There are a variety of tests that can help your doctor determine whether or not you are dealing with ulcerative colitis and some of these tests may be required in order to make a definitive diagnosis. Some of these diagnostic tests and procedures include,
- CT scan
- Blood test
- Colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Stool sample
One of the best ways to treat ulcerative colitis is through medication. The type of medication will depend on the severity of your condition. Common types of medications include,
- Corticosteroids: for more severe forms of ulcerative colitis
- 5-aminosalicylic acid: often the first medication prescribed
- Immunomodulator medications: reduces inflammation by suppressing the immune system
- Biologics: medications that act directly on the immune system or the gut to reduce inflammation