Symptoms & Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis & Proctitis
What is ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a health issue that causes the large intestine, also called the colon, to become inflamed and develop ulcers. This can result in more frequent bowel movements, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The inflammation associated with ulcerative colitis often affects the lower colon or rectum, but in some cases, it may affect the entire colon. In cases when the problem is only affecting the rectum area, it is called ulcerative proctitis.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are similar conditions. Both diseases are known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). However, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GI tract, while ulcerative colitis only damages the colon. Additionally, ulcerative colitis only affects the inner lining of the colon, while Crohn’s disease can affect every layer of the tract.
What causes ulcerative colitis?
Unfortunately, there is no exact known cause of ulcerative colitis. However, numerous studies suggest that the following factors may cause the disease:
- Immune system problems
- Environmental factors
- Being over 30
- Being male
- Having a family member with IBD
What are the symptoms of ulcerative colitis?
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include the below:
- Diarrhea, which could be bloody
- Cramping abdominal pain
- Frequent bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Because ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition, the symptoms may come and go over time and feel more severe at times. The symptoms tend to flare up and then might completely go away for a while. However, symptoms eventually return, even after a patient has been symptom-free for months or years.
How is ulcerative colitis diagnosed?
The following tests for ulcerative colitis may be used to help diagnose someone:
- Blood tests
- Physical exam
- Stool studies
How is ulcerative colitis treated?
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for ulcerative colitis. Physicians generally treat the condition with the goal of returning a patient to a symptom-free, healthy lifestyle by regulating the immune system’s response. The following might be used to help regulate a person’s symptoms:
- Immune modifiers
- Biologic therapies
- Surgery, when needed
- Nutritional therapy
- Psychotherapy, when needed