Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease condition that causes diarrhea (frequent, loose stools) and ulcers in the lining of the colon and rectum. It can occur at any age and is more common among people of the age group between 15 and 30 years. It has a tendency to run in families. The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are pain in the abdomen and blood stained diarrhea. There may also be symptoms such as anemia, tiredness, loss of appetite, rectal bleeding, sores on skin, and pain in the joints. Growth failure may occur in children with this disease. In most of the cases, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis are very mild, but when it is severe it causes frequent fever, nausea and painful cramps in the abdomen.
The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is not known. Immune system abnormality is common in patients with ulcerative colitis, but whether it causes the disease or occurs as a result of the disease is not clearly understood. It is believed that the body’s immune system may react in an abnormal way to the microbial flora in the digestive tract. Your physician may order few diagnostic tests after routine physical examination.
The goal of drug therapy is to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life. Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and immunomodulators are used to reduce inflammation. Pain relievers and anti-diarrhea medications may also be prescribed to relieve symptoms. In patients with severe bleeding and severe diarrhea that causes dehydration, replenishment of lost blood and fluids is done through intravenous administration.
Surgical removal of the colon will be recommended if the medical treatment is unable to cure or in conditions such as massive bleeding, rupture of the colon, or risk of colon cancer. Surgical procedure to remove the colon and rectum is known as proctocolectomy and is performed by either an ileostomy or ileoanal anastomosis technique.