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What is Ulcerative Colitis,Symptoms,Diagnosed,Treatment ?

Written By Abdel Hakim on Monday, March 25, 2013 | 1:36 PM

What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a disease of the large bowel that is chronic, meaning it returns again and again. The large bowel (colon) is the 4 to 5 foot segment of intestine that begins in the right lower abdomen, extends upward and crosses to the left side, and downward to the rectum. It dries out the liquid stool that enters it and stores it until a bowel movement occurs. When ulcerative colitis affects the colon - redness, swelling, and sores form in the colon lining. The disease may involve the entire colon, the rectum, or an area in-between.

 What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?
The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. Some experts believe there may be a defect in the immune system in which the native antibodies actually injure the colon. Others think that an unidentified microorganism or germ may be responsible for the disease. It is possible that many factors, including heredity, may be involved in the cause.

What are the Symptoms?
The disorder usually begins slowly. You may have a crampy stomach pain and diarrhea that is sometimes bloody. In the worst cases, the diarrhea is very frequent and severe. Loss of appetite and weight loss may also occur. The patient may become weak and very sick. When the disease is mostly in the rectum, the symptoms include strong urges for a bowel movement and passage of small amounts of bloody stool. Usually the symptoms tend to come and go. There may be long periods without any symptoms; however, they typically return.



How is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of ulcerative colitis can be obtained from the symptoms. Certain blood and stool tests are done to rule out an infection that can simulate the disease. A visual exam of the lining of the rectum and lower colon (sigmoidoscopy) or the entire colon (colonoscopy) is always needed. This exam usually reveals a characteristic pattern. Small painless biopsies are taken which show certain features of ulcerative colitis. A barium enema X-ray of the colon is also needed during the course of the disease.


What is the Treatment?
There are several types of medical treatments available:

  • Cortisone, Steroids, Prednisone: These powerful drugs usually provide excellent results. A high dose is used first to bring the disorder under control. Then the drug is gradually lowered to a new dose every other day. In time, the doctor will try to discontinue the use of these drugs because of the potential for long-term side effects. These medicines can be intravenous (IV), pills, or small enemas.
     
  •  Immune System Suppressors: An overactive immune system is a key factor in the cause of ulcerative colitis. Certain drugs are available that can suppress the immune system.
     
  • Diet: There are no foods known to injure the bowel. You are advised to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with enough protein and calories. A multiple vitamin is often suggested. Iron may be prescribed if a low blood count is present.
     
  • Stress and anxiety: These may aggravate symptoms of the disorder, but are not believed to cause it or make it worse.
     
  • Surgery: Surgery is a welcome option for patients with long standing disease that is hard to control with medicine. The colon is removed and a pouch is created from the small intestine.
    If you have any symptoms of ulcerative colitis, talk with your doctor. New treatment options may improve the quality of your life.

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