What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Before seeking treatment, it’s important to understand ulcerative colitis and its differences compared to other inflammatory bowel diseases. Ulcerative colitis creates inflammation and ulcers inside the digestive tract. Because the disease develops over time, the symptoms tend to get stronger and more apparent as the days pass. The innermost lining of the colon and rectum will be affected, thus creating potentially life threatening issues if not treated in time.
Diet and stress have been long thought to be a primary cause for the disease, but an exact cause is unknown. In most cases, a family history of ulcerative colitis will contribute to susceptibility.
What Are the Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?
Because the symptoms deal heavily with the large intestine, they will be apparent quickly. The severity of the symptoms, however, will depend on the inflammation and where it occurs. Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Rectal pain and bleeding
- Diarrhea (potentially with blood or pus)
- Weight loss
Diagnosis and Treatment
Because ulcerative colitis can often blend in with other inflammatory bowel diseases, your doctor will run a series of tests to rule out any other potential issues. After all other possibilities are ruled out, your doctor may perform any or multiple of the following procedures to firmly diagnose:
- X-Ray or CT Scan
- Stool Sample
- Blood Test
The most common procedure used for diagnosis is the colonoscopy as it allows doctors to view the entire colon and obtain tissue samples.
After your doctor has diagnosed you with ulcerative colitis, there are a number of treatment options available. While there is no cure, the treatment options will help relieve side effects and help you resume a normal life. Treatments may include:
Antibiotics and Pain Relievers
While you will typically need further treatment options, antibiotics, anti-diarrheal medications, and pain relievers may help control infection and pain overall. In addition, the side effects such as diarrhea and constipation may be calmed or controlled using these medications.
Corticosteroids and Other Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
While these will commonly be reserved for moderate to severe colitis that has not responded to other treatment, they will help with the inflammation of your colon and rectum.
While this is the last step in treatment of ulcerative colitis, it’s typically the only method that will effectively eliminate the issue. The most common surgery offered is a removal of your entire colon and rectum, or a proctocolectomy.
Prevention and Appointments in Philadelphia
Preventing or limitation of symptoms surrounding ulcerative colitis can require lifestyle changes, but can be successful. If you are experiencing possible side effects, try the following steps:
- Limit fiber, dairy products, and spicy foods.
- Decrease alcohol and caffeine intake.
- Eat smaller meals.
- Increase hydration with water and other electrolyte heavy beverages.
- Develop consistent exercise patterns.
If you are concerned about or experiencing issues related to ulcerative colitis, it’s important to seek the advice of a medical professional. Contact Philadelphia Gastroenterology Consultants today to set up an appointment.