Ulcerative Colitis

What is Ulcerative colitis ?

Ulcerative colitis is a bowel disease caused due to inflammation in the digestive tract. It develops slowly and can be fatal to life. Mainly the innermost layer of the large intestine and rectum are affected by ulcerative colitis. There is no known cure, but there are therapies that reduce the symptoms.

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis

Its symptoms may differ, depending on the seriousness of the swelling and the location where it happens. Therefore physicians usually segregate ulcerative colitis as per its location. They are as follows:

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  • Left sided colitis: In this swelling and irritation starts from rectum through sigmoid and descends at large intestine which are situated in the upper left portion of the stomach. Diarrhea filled with blood, pain on the left part, stomach cramps and weight loss for no specified reason are some of the symptoms of left sided colitis.
  • Ulcerative proctitis: In ulcerative proctitis swelling and irritation is in rectum and some of the symptoms for this type may be pain in rectum or even bleeding. Also the person may get a feeling of bowel urgency. It is one of the least serious forms of ulcerative colitis.
  • Fulminant colitis: In fulminant colitis the whole large intestine is affected causing very bad pain, excess diarrhea and may also lead to dehydration and shock. It is fatal to life and can cause serious problems like damage of the large intestine.
  • Proctosigmoiditis: It affects the sigmoid colon which forms the portion of rectum and lower end portion of the large intestine. Stomach cramps, pain, diarrhea filled in blood and tenesmus are some signs of proctosigmoiditis.
  • Pancolitis: It affects the left large intestine and usually the whole large intestine. It leads to serious problems like stomach cramps, tiredness, profuse bloody diarrhea and considerable loss of weight.

When the above symptoms are seen then it is advisable to consult a doctor.

Causes of Ulcerative colitis

Stress is said be one of the cause and it worsens the condition but there are other causes, which are as follows:

  • Genetic: Ulcerative colitis could be due to hereditary reasons. If a parent or sister or brother has ulcerative colitis then experts believe that it could pass on. Mostly people suffering from ulcerative colitis do not have such a problem.
  • Immune system:  Few experts say that a virus may be one of the reasons for ulcerative colitis. The digestive tract develops swelling when the immune system fights these pathogens.

Treatment of Ulcerative colitis

To treat ulcerative colitis experts use drugs or surgery. There are different types of drugs used to control swelling. For some it may turn out well but some others it may not. Also use of drugs has side effects and risks.

Some of the anti-inflammatory drugs used are as follows:

  • Corticosteroids: These help in reducing the swelling but at the same time have many side effects like mood changes rapidly, hypertension, weight gain, diabetes, fracture of bone, glaucoma, excess hair on face, cataract and proneness to infections. These drugs are not advised for a long term.
  • Sulfasalazine: It reduces the symptoms of ulcerative colitis effectively. But this medicine also has many side effects like diarrhea, headache, nauseating feeling, vomiting and heartburn. It is advised not to take this drug if anyone has allergy of sulfa drugs.
  • Mesalamine, balsalazide and olsalazine:  All these drugs are in oral and topical forms. The type or form of the particular drug which should be taken is decided after knowing which part of the large intestine is affected. It has few side effects. Mesalamine, this drug helps in relieving symptoms for around ninety per cent people suffering from mild ulcerative colitis. Those suffering from left sided colitis can go for a combination of oral and topical (enemas) form of mesalamine, whereas for those suffering from proctitis, oral mesalamine and suppositories are advised. All these may have some rare side effects like kidney problem, headache or pancreatitis.

Immune system suppressors: Immune system suppressors help in reducing swelling and also treat the immune system. These are very good and effective for treatment of ulcerative colitis; therefore experts say that damages to the digestive tissues are made by the body’s immune reaction to a virus or bacterium or the person’s own tissues. Some of the immune system suppressors are mercaptopurine, azathioprine, infliximab, cyclosporine, etc.

Some other medications to control swelling are as follows:

  • Iron supplements: These help in restoring iron level which is lost due to severe bleeding in the intestines causing iron deficiency anemia.
  • Anti diarrheals: Imodium is advised to control diarrhea but should be used carefully as it increases the danger of toxic megacolon.
  • Pain relievers: For less pain physicians may advise acetaminophen whereas ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen should be avoided as it can worsen the condition.
  • Antibiotics: Those suffering from ulcerative colitis as well as get fever are advised to take antibiotics which helps in controlling and preventing the infection.

Ulcerative Colitis Surgery

If the drugs and other treatments do not help in relieving the symptoms then surgery can be opted which usually eliminates ulcerative colitis. This involves removal of the large intestine and rectum and a small bag is replaced in the stomach for collection of stool. This is called as proctocolectomy. But there is another procedure known as ileoanal anastomosis. In this, bag is not kept; rather a small pouch is constructed from the end of small intestine and attached to anus through which waste is expelled in a normal way.

Ulcerative Colitis Pictures

Here are pictures of  ulcerative colitis

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