About Ulcerative Colitis
Most gastrointestinal (GI) tract conditions and diseases are challenging to treat because of their symptoms and uncomfortable diagnosing tests. Unfortunately, they also fall in the awkward category of making one embarrassed at their gastroenterologist (specializing in the digestive system) appointments. This is primarily at the age of 15 to 30, when it is most commonly diagnosed.
Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is one such chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affecting the GI tract. It causes inflammation (which might start from the rectum before spreading to the larger intestine), irritation, and ulcers in the patient’s colon.
UC is known to be caused by an overactive immune system, with genes and environment being a few complex influencing factors. While there’s no cure for it, medicines and, in more complicated cases, surgery can control inflammation to help manage its symptoms.
What are its symptoms?
Half of the patients diagnosed with UC have mild symptoms, including nausea, anemia, and weight loss. These may worsen over time, and patients may suffer from osteoarthritis and liver disease. Severe symptoms of UC also include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, high fever, dehydration, and swelling of joints.
Chances of suffering from this disease are raised if you:
- eat a high-fat diet,
- are frequent users of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- or have a close relative with IBD.
How is it diagnosed?
UC should not be confused with colitis which also signifies an inflamed colon, though caused by infections and bacteria. UC surpasses colitis in severity as it can be a disease (not caused by infections) that patients must manage throughout their lives.
Your doctor will require your medical history and any information about a family with UC, other autoimmune disorders, or Crohn’s disease (both types of IBD). It is advisable to bring a list of all medications you take and any dietary supplements or alternative medicines.
During the physical exam, your doctor will most likely check vital signs like temperature, BP, and heart rate. They may use a stethoscope to listen to your abdomen and feel your belly to see if it’s tender. They may also perform a digital rectal exam if they suspect blood in the feces. Your doctor may order CT Scans of problem areas and perform Flexible Sigmoidoscopy and Colonoscopy.
Apart from Biopsy, imaging, and endoscopic examinations, doctors may write more tests to rule out other bowel diseases. These include blood tests such as complete blood count to rule out anemia, high C-reactive protein level, antibody tests, etc. The doctor may also look for inflammatory markers like bacteria, parasites, and blood in stool tests.
Managing Ulcerative Colitis
For some people, the lifespan of UC is one flare-up. For others, there can be episode after episode varying in severity. However, medications like Colazal will keep the inflammation calm for a significant duration. Controls on a diet, specific natural remedies (after clearance from your doctor), and exercise can aid those suffering from UC.
A low-fat diet supports treatment by providing symptomatic relief because high fat can trigger flare-ups and diarrhea in IBD, which low-fat delays. Vitamin C-rich food like spinach, bell peppers, etc., encourage extended periods of UC remission.
Fiber intake requires the most care despite the popular notion that getting more fiber in your diet helps alleviate symptoms. While UC is aggravated by consuming insoluble fiber, increasing soluble fiber can reduce the severity of UC and its pain, constipation, cramping, etc.
It can be helpful to identify and arrest aggravating lifestyle patterns and mild symptoms by ourselves for a more manageable UC. However, it’s crucial to see a doctor soon if our symptoms worsen to have prolonged remission periods while managing this disease.
For more info, visit Canadian Pharmacy Online