Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes inflammation, called ulcers, in the lining of the rectum and colon. Ulcers form where inflammation has damaged the cells that usually line the colon, causing bleeding and producing pus.
Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes inflammation, called ulcers, in the lining of the rectum and colon. Ulcers form where inflammation has damaged the cells that usually line the colon, causing bleeding and producing pus. Inflammation in the colon and rectum can also cause frequent emptying and spasticity, commonly known as diarrhea.
The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. Other primary symptoms can include weight loss, loss of appetite, dehydration, and a loss of nutrients.
Secondary symptoms affect parts of the body other than the digestive tract. For example, frequent fevers, anemia, joint pain, fatigue, and lesions or sores on the skin can occur. In children, ulcerative colitis can inhibit growth.
Ulcerative colitis may also cause problems such as arthritis, inflammation of the eye, liver disease, and osteoporosis. Although no one is certain, it’s thought that these complications may be the result of inflammation triggered by the immune system. Some of these complications may improve during treatment, however, others may require separate treatment by a specialist. It’s important to note that ulcerative colitis is an ongoing condition, and that in most cases treatment will be required throughout the patient’s life.
Ulcerative colitis is diagnosed by taking a biopsy of the colon lining during colonoscopy. The biopsy will show chronic inflammation if ulcerative colitis is present. Additional specialized testing is generally ordered to rule out other inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, before a final diagnosis is made.
People with ulcerative colitis are thought to have abnormalities of the immune system, but it is unclear whether these abnormalities are a cause or an effect of the disease. In patients with ulcerative colitis, the body’s immune system is believed to react abnormally to bacteria in the digestive tract.
Ulcerative colitis is not caused by emotional distress or sensitivity to certain foods, but these factors can trigger symptoms in some people. Unfortunately, the stress of living with ulcerative colitis can actually make the symptoms worse or contribute to flare ups.
It’s important to note that people with ulcerative colitis have an increased risk of developing colon cancer. The risk of cancer increases with the duration of the disease and the amount of damage to the colon. Because of this increased risk, people with ulcerative colitis need aggressive screening for colorectal cancer.