If you have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, then you have an inflammatory bowel disease. This is often referred to as IBD. Ulcerative colitis causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. It causes abdominal pain and diarrhea. Another type of inflammatory bowel disease is Crohn’s disease. Both of these conditions can be hard to manage and can cause complications that can be life threatening.
Affecting then inner lining of the colon and rectum, ulcerative colitis causes continuous stretching of the large intestine. There is currently no cure for ulcerative colitis but there are treatments that may be used to help reduce the symptoms in patients suffering for the condition. In some patients, long-term remission of the disease may be a result of such treatments.
There are four different classifications of ulcerative colitis, depending on the severity and the location in which it effects. One form is called ulcerative proctitis. This form of the condition only affects the rectum. Rectal bleeding is a common sign of this type of ulcerative colitis. Other symptoms may include constipation or a feeling of urgency to go to the restroom without being able to do so. Left-Sided Colitis affects the rectum on the left side all the way through the sigmoid and the decending colon. This causes symptoms of abdominal cramping, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea and weight loss. Pancolitis affects the entire colon. This causes bloody diarrhea, pain and cramping in the abdomen, weight loss, night sweating and fatigue. Fulminant colitis is the rarest form of ulcerative colitis and the most life-threatening. Affecting the entire colon it causes severe pain, cramping, extreme diarrhea, dehydration and often shock. This type of ulcerative colitis can cause severe complications such as colon rupture and toxic megacolon.
Treating ulcerative colitis can be done through various medications and lifestyle changes, although between 25-40% of people with the disease end up needing surgery for their condition. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Sulfasalazine, Mesalamine and Olsalazine, Balsalazide and Corticosteroids are all used to help control the inflammation of the bowel and rectum. There are so many different types of medications used because not everything works the same for everyone.
There are other medications known as immune system suppressors that also reduce inflammation, however they work with the immune system instead of treating the inflamed bowel. Some of these medications are Azathioprine and Mercaptopurine, Cyclosporine, and Infliximab.
Often times the best course of treatment is to use more than one type of medication at a time. Medications such as anti-diarrheals, laxatives, pain relievers, and iron supplements may all play important roles in controlling symptoms and side effects caused by the disease.
There are some lifestyle changes that may help eliminate symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Often changing your diet habits can offer great rewards. Paying close attention to the foods you eat and what symptoms follow can help you figure out some of the foods that you cannot digest well. Foods that are likely to cause a person with ulcerative colitis trouble are dairy products, raw fruits and vegetables, spicy food, beans, juices, caffeinated drinks, chocolate, popcorn, and alcohol. What may bother some does not always affect another, so keeping an eye on your own intake of these foods and your body’s reaction can really help you eliminate some of the problem foods.
When medications fail to relieve the symptoms of the ulcerative colitis, surgery may be the last step. Surgery can eliminate the colitis altogether by removing the colon and rectum. This is the last possible resort when it comes to dealing with the condition.
If you suffer from ulcerative colitis or are showing signs of the condition, make sure to see a doctor to discuss your options in treating the condition.
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