The symptoms of ulcerative colitis may be mild, moderate or severe. Mild ulcerative colitis symptoms may be treated at home, while moderate symptoms typically require prescription medications to put the disease into remission. Severe symptoms of ulcerative colitis will require medications and possibly surgery to remove the affected portion/s of the colon.
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis typically present before the age of 30 and may include diarrhea, with blood or mucus present in the stool. Rectal bleeding is sometimes one of the ulcerative colitis symptoms, but without the presence of diarrhea, rectal bleeding may indicate another condition. A gastrointestinal physician can perform tests to determine the cause of rectal bleeding.
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis vary depending on the amount of the colon (large intestine) that is inflamed and the intensity of the inflammation. There are different types of ulcerative colitis and they are classified according to the portion of the colon that is inflamed. For example, it is referred to by physicians as ulcerative proctitis when only the rectum is inflamed and the only symptom in this case may be rectal bleeding. In more severe cases the symptoms of ulcerative colitis that is confined to the rectum may include rectal pain and bleeding, sudden need to empty the bowels or a painful urge to move the bowels without result.
When other portions of the colon are affected, ulcerative colitis symptoms typically include bloody diarrhea and cramps, as well as the symptoms experienced by those who only have inflammation in the rectum. If the left side of the colon is inflamed, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis may include weight loss and pain on the left side of the abdomen as well. If the inflammation affects the entire colon, it is referred to by physicians as pancolitis or universal ulcerative colitis; symptoms in this case are the same as in the other types of colitis but may include the additional symptoms of fatigue, fever and night sweats. In the most severe form of ulcerative colitis, symptoms may include dehydration, severe abdominal pain, continuous diarrhea, bleeding and even shock.
In children the symptoms of ulcerative colitis may include growth failure due to the lack of nutrients and fluids caused by persistent diarrhea. This lack of nutrients and fluids also causes problems for adults and may lead to dehydration and anemia if bleeding is present. Joint pain and skin rashes have also been experienced by people with other ulcerative colitis symptoms.
Ulcerative colitis is considered a chronic disease, meaning that the symptoms of ulcerative colitis may come and go and vary in intensity throughout a person's life. Diet may worsen ulcerative colitis symptoms, but no foods are specifically known to aggravate or cause the condition. In fact the cause is not known. Vitamin supplements and botanical remedies like aloe are sometimes recommended to reduce ulcerative colitis symptoms. A recent study using fish oil for omega 3 supplementation showed promise, but there is no plan to market the supplement that was used in the study. Treatment is important, even when the symptoms of ulcerative colitis are mild. For more information about treatment and diet, visit www.digestive-disorders-guide.com