Research And Statistics: How Many People Have Ulcerative Colitis
While people of European descent have traditionally had more cases of ulcerative colitis than others, this is changing. According to a review published in August 2016 in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, IBD is becoming more prevalent in people of African American, Asian, and Hispanic descent.
Ulcerative colitis tends to run in families, affecting men and women equally overall. But older men are more likely to develop it than older women, according to the Crohns and Colitis Foundation.
What Are The Treatment Options For A Flare
When you first develop ulcerative colitis it is usual to take medication for a few weeks until symptoms clear. A course of medication is then usually taken each time symptoms flare up. The medicine advised may depend on the severity of the symptoms and the main site of the inflammation in the colon and the rectum .
Topical treatments applied locally by an enema or suppository are widely used for treating ulcerative colitis, particularly aminosalicylate and steroid medicines – see below. They are a treatment option if ulcerative colitis affects only the lower part of the bowel .
Medication options include the following:
Types Of Ulcerative Colitis
The type of ulcerative colitis you have depends on where it is in your body:
- Ulcerative proctitis is usually the mildest form. Itâs only in the rectum, the part of your colon closest to your . Rectal bleeding may be the only sign of the disease.
- Proctosigmoiditis happens in your rectum and the lower end of your colon . Youâll have bloody diarrhea, belly cramps, and pain. Youâll have the urge to poop, but you wonât be able to.
- Left-sided colitis causes cramps on that side of your belly. Youâll also have bloody diarrhea, and you might lose weight without trying. Youâll have inflammation from your rectum up through the left side of your colon.
- Pancolitis often affects your entire colon. It can cause severe bouts of bloody diarrhea, belly cramps, pain, fatigue, and major weight loss.
- Acute severe ulcerative colitis is rare. It affects your entire colon and causes severe pain, heavy diarrhea, bleeding, and fever.
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What Is Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms Causes Diagnosis And Treatment
Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease in which the lining of the large intestine becomes inflamed.
The small intestine is rarely affected.
There are several subtypes of ulcerative colitis, which are named according to the part of the colon affected:
- Ulcerative proctitis, which affects only the rectum
- Proctosigmoiditis, which affects the rectum and lower segment of the colon
- Left-sided colitis, which affects the rectum, sigmoid colon, and descending colon up to the sharp bend near the spleen
- Pan-ulcerative or total colitis, which affects the entire colon
Whats The Difference Between Ulcerative Colitis And Crohns Disease
UC and Crohns disease are the most common forms of IBD. Both conditions are thought to be the result of an overactive immune system.
They also share many symptoms, including:
However, UC and Crohns disease do have distinct differences. Understanding the key differences between them can help you obtain a proper diagnosis.
These two conditions affect different portions of the GI tract.
Response to treatment
Similar medications are prescribed to treat both conditions. Surgery is also a treatment option. Its a last resort for both conditions, but it can be a cure for UC, whereas its only a temporary therapy for Crohns.
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Whats The Difference Between Ulcerative Colitis And Colitis
Colitis refers to inflammation of the inner lining of the colon. Colitis causes symptoms such as abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, and diarrhea.
An inflamed colon can be caused by several conditions. UC is one possible cause. Other possible causes of colitis include:
- Crohns disease
- an allergic reaction
To diagnose the cause of colitis, a doctor will order a series of tests. These tests will help them understand what other symptoms youre experience and rule out conditions based on what youre not experiencing.
Treatment for colitis will depend on the underlying cause and other symptoms you have.
Menstrual Cycle & Ulcerative Colitis
Women with UC, experience changes in their menstrual cycle and start to experience irregular periods or changes in their flow. The prostaglandins that cause uterine contractions and other menstrual symptoms also cause colon contraction, which in turn make the period pain more intense.
When women with UC menstruate they face an increased risk for anemia. The anemia risk is high for women with high flow. Losing a lot of blood during the flow can use up more red blood cells than the body can produce, thus reducing iron stores.
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How Can I Help My Child Live With Ulcerative Colitis
Children with this condition need long-term care. Your child may have times when symptoms go away . This can sometimes last for months or years. But symptoms usually come back.
Your child should learn what foods trigger his or her symptoms and avoid these foods. You and your childs healthcare provider should make sure your child gets enough nutrients to grow and develop well. Support groups can help you and your child. Work with your childs healthcare provider to create a care plan for your child.
Inflammation Of The Rectum
Symptoms may be different if a flare-up only affects the rectum and not the colon. You may have fresh bleeding from the rectum and you may form normal stools rather than have diarrhoea. You may even become constipated further up in the unaffected higher part of the colon but with a frequent feeling of wanting to go to the toilet.
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Extraintestinal Manifestations And Complications
UC is characterized by immune dysregulation and systemic inflammation, which may result in symptoms and complications outside the colon. Commonly affected organs include: eyes, joints, skin, and liver. The frequency of such extraintestinal manifestations has been reported as between 6 and 47%.
UC may affect the mouth. About 8% of individuals with UC develop oral manifestations. The two most common oral manifestations are aphthous stomatitis and angular cheilitis. Aphthous stomatitis is characterized by ulcers in the mouth, which are benign, noncontagious and often recurrent. Angular chelitis is characterized by redness at the corners of the mouth, which may include painful sores or breaks in the skin. Very rarely, benign pustules may occur in the mouth .
UC may affect the eyes. Inflammation may occur in the interior portion of the eye, leading to uveitis and iritis. Uveitis can cause blurred vision and eye pain, especially when exposed to light . Untreated, uveitis can lead to permanent vision loss. Inflammation may also involve the white part of the eye or the overlying connective tissue , causing conditions called scleritis and episcleritis. Uveitis and iritis are more commonly associated with ulcerative colitis, whereas episcleritis is more commonly associated with Crohn’s disease.
Does Ulcerative Colitis Make You Immunocompromised
Ulcerative colitis doesnt make you immunocompromised. Some of the medicines that treat it may change the way your immune system responds. This change is different for each medication. Some of these changes may increase the risk of certain infections or other issues. A discussion with your health care team before starting a medication is the best way to understand these risks and ways to prevent them.
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What Other Conditions Are Related To Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a type of IBD, but it’s not the same as irritable bowel syndrome .
Another disease often mentioned alongside ulcerative colitis is Crohns disease. Ulcerative colitis and Crohns are different types of IBDs that affect the digestive tract in different ways.
The two diseases have a lot of common symptoms, but certain symptoms may make your doctor suspect one disease versus the other.
While diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and abdominal pain are common in both diseases, Crohns disease more often causes nausea, weight loss, and vomiting. The types of abdominal pain are often somewhat different.
Favorite Resource For Diet Advice
This book by A. Hillary Steinhart, MD, provides dietary strategies and recipes to help manage inflammatory bowel disease. The head of the combined division of gastroenterology for Mount Sinai Hospital and the University Health Network in Torontos Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Steinhart worked with the clinical dietitian Julie Cepo to offer well-researched dietary advice for people to maintain health during flare-ups as well as periods of remission. The book is packed with 150 recipes, from risotto to stew, to help anyone with IBD eat well and prevent malnutrition.
Doctors assured Danielle Walker that her diet was not a factor in her ulcerative colitis flares. But after years of suffering and multiple hospitalizations, Walker realized that she needed to make dietary changes. At the two-year remission mark, the mom, wife, and self-trained chef began blogging about her experience and sharing recipes to help others struggling with IBD. You can buy Walkers cookbooks on her website, which is loaded with nutritional resources including a blog and videos.
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Ulcerative Colitis Questions To Ask Your Doctor
Whether youâre worried your symptoms are UC, or you already have the condition and want more information, here are questions to ask your doctor:
- Are my symptoms a sign of ulcerative colitis or another condition?
- Are there different kinds of UC? Do they have different symptoms?
- What tests will I need?
- If I have ulcerative colitis, what will my treatment plan be?
- Will changing my diet or lifestyle help ease my symptoms?
- How serious is my ulcerative colitis?
- If I take medication for ulcerative colitis, will there be side effects?
- Should I take nutritional supplements like probiotics?
- How often will I need to come in for checkups?
- What should I do if my symptoms suddenly get worse?
- How do I know if my ulcerative colitis is getting worse?
- How do I know if I should change my ulcerative colitis medication?
- Should I consider surgery? What does surgery involve?
- What is my risk of getting colon cancer?
When To See A Doctor
For people with ulcerative colitis, it can be challenging to know which symptoms are an emergency, which should prompt a call to the gastroenterologist, and which can wait.
After doing well and having few or no symptoms, when symptoms begin again, it is a reason to call the doctor and get evaluated for a potential flare-up. It may be necessary to change treatments or adjust the current care plan in order to get any inflammation under control quickly.
Ulcerative Colitis Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
In general, symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, excessive bleeding, and signs of dehydration are a reason to seek medical care right away. When possible, calling the gastroenterologist before going to the hospital might help in deciding what level of care is needed.
However, if treatment is needed right away, going to the emergency department may be the best choice. If a serious condition such as a bowel perforation or toxic megacolon is suspected, it may be necessary to call 911, because these are medical emergencies.
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Who Gets Ulcerative Colitis
Anyone at any age, including young children, can get ulcerative colitis. Your chance of getting it is slightly higher if you:
- Have a close relative with inflammatory bowel disease .
- Are between 15 and 30 years old, or older than 60.
- Are Jewish.
- Use frequent nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen .
Is It Important To Treat A Flare Early Or Is It Ok To Wait A Bit
Inflammation typically does not resolve without treatment and early intervention has a better outcome than waiting to treat. At an early stage of a flare, a more optimal baseline treatment is often enough to get the inflammation under control. If you wait, there is a greater risk that you might need drugs with greater side effects, such as oral steroids. By waiting, you will have to manage longer with your symptoms before getting relief. Living with constant or longer periods of inflammation might increase your risk for future complications, as inflammation might cause damage to the gut wall that accumulates in severity with each flare.
If you are experiencing worsening symptoms, you have probably already had the flare for some time without symptoms. Evidence shows that a stool test for inflammation in the colon, called fecal calprotectin, is often elevated for two to three months before any symptoms appear. Your colon might also start to show visual evidence of inflammation before you have symptoms, or at least indicate an increased risk for a flare.
What Is Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease. It is sometimes referred to simply as ‘colitis’.
It causes painful swelling and redness in the digestive tract. This can lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Its estimated that more than 33,000 Australians have UC.
Inflammation is a normal way in which the immune system defends the body when fighting off invaders, such as bacteria or viruses. Usually, the inflammation disappears once the invaders are destroyed. With UC, a problem with the immune system causes the inflammation to continue, damaging the walls of the digestive tract.
Signs And Symptoms Of Ulcerative Colitis
Recognizing the symptoms of ulcerative colitis is your first step toward knowing when your disease is in a flare and when to seek medical attention.
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis vary from person to person and about half of all ulcerative colitis patients experience mild symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your healthcare provider.
Loose and urgent bowel movements
Persistent diarrhea accompanied by abdominal pain and blood in the stool
What Are The Symptoms During A Flare
- Diarrhoea. This varies from mild to severe. The diarrhoea may be mixed with mucus or pus. An urgency to get to the toilet is common. A feeling of wanting to go to the toilet but with nothing to pass is also common . Water is not absorbed so well in the inflamed colon, which makes the diarrhoea watery.
- Blood mixed with diarrhoea is common .
- Crampy pains in the tummy .
- Pain when passing stools.
Feeling generally unwell is typical if the flare-up affects a large amount of the colon and the rectum , or lasts for a long time. High temperature , tiredness, feeling sick , weight loss and anaemia may develop.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Ulcerative Colitis
The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are cramping belly pain and diarrhea. Other symptoms include:
- blood in the toilet, on toilet paper, or in the stool
- urgent need to poop
- low energy
- weight loss
Ulcerative coliits can cause other problems, such as rashes, eye problems, joint pain and arthritis, and liver disease. Kids with ulcerative colitis may not grow well as well as other kids their age and puberty may happen later than normal.
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How Do You Get An Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis
One important thing to note is that people with more severe cases of ulcerative colitis are at an increased risk of developing colon cancer and other serious health conditions, like liver disease, Rudolph Bedford, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF. Thats why its important to reach out to a medical professional if you do have any of the above symptoms.
However, an ulcerative colitis diagnosis can be challenging because other conditions can mimic symptoms of IBD, like infections or even hemorrhoids, Dr. Sinha says. In terms of differentiating between Crohns and ulcerative colitis, he says, Theres no single test that we have that 100% distinguishes between the two. We rely on the patient history and other information such as radiographic imaging and endoscopy. Doing a colonoscopy, for example, can be one of the most reliable ways to identify IBD and to then distinguish between Crohns and ulcerative colitis.
While a colonoscopy is an effective tool, Dr. Sinha clarifies that its not the only way. Rather, theres an entire constellation of tests and data that can be considered, including imaging, lab tests, and a detailed intake of the patients symptoms and presentation.
Favorite Ulcerative Colitis Blogger
Sam Cleasby created her blog in 2013 to raise awareness of IBD and her struggles with self-esteem. Cleasby also has a radio show on BBC Radio Sheffield in which she shares about modern family life, including relationships, disability, nutrition, and kids. You can subscribe to her blog via email or follow her on or .
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Key Points About Ulcerative Colitis In Children
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease. In this condition, the inner lining of your childs large intestine and rectum gets inflamed.
This inflammation causes diarrhea or frequent emptying of the colon. Your child may also have stomach pain and diarrhea.
Treatment may include avoiding foods that cause symptoms, taking medicine, and having surgery.
Children with this condition need long-term care. Your child may have times when symptoms go away. But symptoms usually come back.