Ulcerative colitis is also known as inflammatory bowel disease because it mainly affects the large intestine, colon and sometimes the rectum. In this chronic condition, the colon and rectum become inflamed and develop ulcers or sores. As a result, you may experience bleeding and diarrhea, which are characteristic of ulcerative colitis.
No one knows what causes ulcerative colitis. The immune system is involved, but it is not clear exactly how. Ulcerative colitis affects men and women equally. You can have ulcerative colitis at any age, but it often occurs between the ages of 15 and 30 years, or later in life, from the ages of 50 to 70 years.
It is more common in whites and those of Jewish descent. It is important to receive treatment for ulcerative colitis. If left untreated, it can increase the risk of more serious complications in the long run.
How do I know if I have ulcerative colitis?
Your doctor will first check for the usual symptoms of ulcerative colitis, mainly bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. Following this, several tests can be performed to confirm that it is ulcerative colitis. These include:
Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, and they can have a negative impact on your social life. Certain foods and spices can trigger the symptoms, causing bouts of diarrhea in public places.
The symptoms will vary depending on how serious your condition is, but they are manageable. Symptoms will occur as flare-ups (worsening of inflammation) that can range from mild, with symptoms coming on gradually, to severe, in which a person can become very ill. Some people may have periods of remission in which symptoms go away for months and even years, but in most, the symptoms will eventually return.
Mild ulcerative colitis symptoms include rectal bleeding, rectal pain or urge for a bowel movement (with no success), bloody diarrhea (from a few occasional episodes to several times a day), abdominal cramps and pain (which usually disappear after a bowel movement), fever, pain that moves to the left side and unintended weight loss.
Severe symptoms include bloody diarrhea that becomes severe with abdominal cramps and pain, fatigue and significant weight loss, as well as severe pain, profuse diarrhea, dehydration and shock (rare).
You may also experience joint pain, mouth sores, nausea and vomiting, skin lumps or ulcers, or anemia.
The recurrence of symptoms can be reduced by making some dietary and lifestyle changes. Avoiding certain foods that can worsen diarrhea and gas symptoms is a good start. Try the process of elimination to find out which specific foods aggravate your symptoms. The key is to eat a well-balanced diet to prevent the malnourishment that can result from your intestines not being able to absorb nutrients as well. Eliminating dairy products will only help people who are lactose intolerant.
To help control symptoms: