Sunday, May 5, 2013

What You Should Know About Ulcerative Colitis

About The Disease

Ulcerative Colitis is a form of IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Disease - which causes sores and inflammation in the rectum or colon lining - commonly known as ulcers. Ulcers develop where the cells which line the colon have been killed by the inflammation. This then will lead to bleeding - producing pus. Inflammation inside the colon also causes diarrhea, resulting from the colon's emptying frequently.

What The Symptoms Are

Ulcerative Colitis' common symptoms are diarrhea and abdominal pain. However, there are still other symptoms leading to UC.

Patients may have some of these symptoms as well:

  • Fatigue

  • Appetite loss

  • Anemia

  • Weight loss

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Skin lesions

  • Growth failure (especially among children)

  • Nutrient and body fluids

  • Joint pain

There are some mild symptoms suffered by almost 50% of the patients with Ulcerative Colitis. A few to mention are severe abdominal cramps, nausea, bloody diarrhea and frequent fevers. Other problems that Ulcerative Colitis may cause include osteoporosis, liver disease, eye inflammation and arthritis. There is no scientific explanations yet as to why such problems are manifested outside the colon. But scientists believe that the complications may have been an inflammation result, as stimulated by the immune system.

Its Causes

Although there is no known cause for Ulcerative Colitis, theories were formulated to suggest why such disease occurs.

There are abnormalities in the immune system of the people with Ulcerative Colitis. When bacteria is present in the digestive tract, the body's immune system is perceived to abnormally react. Emotional stress or food allergies do not cause Ulcerative Colitis directly, but for some people - these factors may trigger some symptoms.

How It May Be Diagnosed

In diagnosing Ulcerative Colitis, a medical history check and a physical exam are the first steps.

Anemia is said to be one indication of bleeding in the rectum or colon, so blood tests are normally done to check. Blood tests are also done to check for high white blood cell count, as this is another symptom of an inflammation in the body. Stool samples are also alternatives to blood tests - as they may deliver the same indications.

It may also reveal a high white blood cell count, which is another manifestation of inflammation inside the body, just like what a stool sample could do. For a more accurate method of diagnosing Ulcerative Colitis and leave other possible conditions aside, a patient should undergo a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. It's also the same method for cancer or Crohn's disease diagnosis. At times, X-ray is also an option.

There is somehow a difficulty in diagnosing its symptoms because they are similar to other intestinal disorders and to another type of IBD called Crohn's disease.

Treatments Available
Treating Ulcerative Colitis varies upon the severity of the disease.

Patients may undergo drug therapy which helps in inducing and maintaining remission - leading to improving the quality of their life. Some drugs that are recommended are aminosalicylates, corticosteroids and immunomodulators.

Surgery can also be considered as Ulcerative Colitis can be generally cured by surgical removal of the large intestine, or what is called as colectomy.

People infected with Ulcerative Colitis should also watch their diet. They should take in foods with high dietary fibers since it has long been recommended in the maintenance of bowel function.

It should be taken care of immediately as it may lead to colon cancer when not given enough attention.

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