Ulcerative Colitis Facts
Ulcerative Colitis is an illness characterized by inflammation and sore generally in the lining of lower colon and rectum but can affect any part of the colon. It is one of the two most common types of inflammatory bowel disease. The more of the colon that is affected generally the worse the symptoms will be. This condition may have mild symptoms or some may have severe symptoms and complications that are life threatening in rare cases. Children with this illness may grow more slowly and go through puberty later.
Causes and Risk Factors
The exact cause of Ulcerative Colitis is unknown at this time. Research says that Ulcerative Colitis and other similar diseases may result from an abnormal immunological response to normal intestinal bacteria. Also another possible cause is disease causing bacterias and viruses. Also this condition can run in families. Risk factors include having a family history of Ulcerative Colitis. This risk is further increased if an immediate family member has the disease. Another risk factor is being of Jewish Ashkenazi descent.
The symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis may include any number of the following.
Diarrhea- Some may have diarrhea ten to twenty times a day.
Rectal bleeding- UC causes bloody mucus in the stools.
Abdominal Pain- often described as cramping. The abdomen may be tender to the touch.
Constipation-may result depending on what part of the colon is affected. Much less common than diarrhea.
Loss of appetite
Weight loss-due to chronic diarrhea
Anemia- caused by bloody stools and/or inflammation
Treatment depends largely on the severity of the symptoms. For mild symptoms anti-diarrhea medications may be used. Changes in diet are also used to treat mild symptoms. Enemas ans suppositories are also used to treat the illness. Corticosteroids are used a few weeks at a time to control active disease. Aminosalicylates are often used to stop or reduce symptoms. More severe symptoms often require higher doses of these medications. In some cases medications that suppress the immune system are prescribed. Hospitalization is sometimes required in severe cases. In cases that are very severe surgical removal of the large intestine which cures Ulcerative Colitis may be performed. Tylenol may be used to relieve pain. The goal of treatment is to get the disease into remission and keep it in remission. NSAID pain relievers are not recommended because they can actually cause Ulcerative Colitis to flair up. Some patient have to have an ostomy procedure performed. This is an opening in the from the intestines to the outside of the body through which stool passes. Children often have a more difficult time managing the illness so support from parents in very important.