A chronic inflammatory bowel disease in which the inner lining of the large intestine (colon or bowel) and rectum become inflamed, Ulcerative colitis is a serious disorder which is characterized by recurrent episodes of abdominal pain, fever, chills and profuse diarrhea.
Ulcerative colitis causes both inflammation and sores, also called ulcers, in the lining of the colon and rectum. The ulcerated areas occur in the areas where inflammation has killed off the protective cells that usually line the colon. The inflammation and ulcers lead to pain, bleeding, and the hallmark symptom of profuse and nearly uncontrollable diarrhea.
The inflammation typically begins in the rectum and the sigmoid or lower colon. It may then spreads upward throughout the entire colon. However, except for the lower section, call the ileum, this disease rarely invades the small intestine. Other names for ulcerative colitis include proctitis, enteritis, ileitis and colitis.
Currently the cause is unknown, although many theories exist. Some researchers believe that it is hereditary; others believe that it is due to a bacteria or viral invasion, and still others believe it is a defect in the immune system in which the body's antibodies actually attack the colon.
The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are abdominal pain and bloody or pus-filled diarrhea. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, rectal bleeding, anemia, loss of body fluids and nutrients and fever.
Patients may also experience joint pain, rashes, skin lesions, and abscesses. Typically the onset of ulcerative colitis is gradual. However, in some cases the onset can be rather severe with the diarrhea and bleeding being much more significant. Because many of these symptoms can mimic other disorders it is important to see your physician so that an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment can begin.
There is currently no known cure for ulcerative colitis except for removal of the colon. Some helpful treatments include medications such as steroids designed to control or lessen the inflammation of the colon can help to improve the diarrhea and cramping. Antibiotics may also be used to help control the disorder.
Other medications may be used to control the pain and diarrhea of ulcerative colitis. Dietary changes can also help. For example, during an acute attack of ulcerative colitis, your physician may suggest that you avoid milk, milk products and bulky, heavy fiber foods.
A healthy diet with sufficient calories and adequate protein will help in overall well being. Hospitalization may be necessary in order to correct malnutrition, dehydration or mineral imbalances and to stop the diarrhea.
Surgery may also be required for difficult cases of ulcerative colitis. In cases of excessive bleeding, a perforation of the colon or even a debilitating lifestyle impact from the disease may all be appropriate reasons for surgery to remove the colon. Surgery is generally looked to as a last resort option after all other treatment options have failed.
Ulcerative colitis mimics several other bowel disorders and must be aggressively managed in order to avoid long term damage to the colon and a significant impact on the overall health of the sufferer.
Talk with your physician today and determine the best and most aggressive course of treatment for your disease.