- Ulcerative Colitis: Diagnosis and Treatment
- Ulcerative Colitis
- What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?
- What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?
- Who Gets Ulcerative Colitis?
- How Is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed?
- How Is Ulcerative Colitis Treated?
- What Else Should I Know About Ulcerative Colitis?
- Looking Ahead
- Treating Colitis Williamsport PA | Colitis Symptoms
- Colitis Symptoms
- Colitis Causes
- Colitis Treatment at UPMC
- Diet and Nutrition
Ulcerative Colitis: Diagnosis and Treatment
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Ulcerative colitis is a condition that causes the inner lining of the large intestine (colon) to get red and swollen with sores called ulcers. It's a chronic condition, which means it lasts a long time or constantly comes and goes.
Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that happens only in the colon.
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 (poop)
- urgent need to poop
- a fever
- 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.
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?
The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is not clear. It is probably a combination of genetics, the immune system, and something in the environment that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Diet and stress may make symptoms worse, but probably don't cause ulcerative colitis.
Who Gets Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis tends to run in families. But not everyone with ulcerative colitis has a family history of BD. Ulcerative colitis can happen at any age, but is usually diagnosed in teens and young adults.
How Is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed?
Ulcerative colitis is diagnosed with a combination of blood tests, stool tests, and X-rays. Medical imaging tests, such as CT scans and MRIs, might be done too.
The doctor will check your stool for blood, and might look at your colon with an instrument called an endoscope, a long, thin tube attached to a TV monitor.
In this procedure, called a colonoscopy, the tube is inserted through the anus to let the doctor see inflammation, bleeding, or ulcers on the wall of the colon.
During the procedure, the doctor might do a (taking small tissue samples for further testing).
How Is Ulcerative Colitis Treated?
Ulcerative colitis is treated with medicines and sometimes surgery. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms, prevent other problems, and avoid flare-ups.
Your doctor may recommend:
- anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease the inflammation
- immunosuppressive agents to prevent the immune system from causing further inflammation
- biologic agents to block proteins that cause inflammation
Because some medicines make it harder to fight infections, it's important that you be tested for tuberculosis and have all the recommended vaccines before starting treatment.
Surgery may be necessary if:
- the bowel develops a hole
- the bowel widens and swells up (called toxic megacolon)
- the bleeding can't be stopped
- symptoms don't respond to treatment
What Else Should I Know About Ulcerative Colitis?
Poor appetite, diarrhea, and poor digestion of nutrients can make it hard for teens with ulcerative colitis to get the calories and nutrients the body needs. Be sure to eat a variety of foods, get plenty of fluids, and avoid foods that make your symptoms worse. Some teens may need supplements, calcium or vitamin D. Someone who isn't growing well may need other nutrition support.
Although it can be challenging to deal with the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, many people find that they're able to feel well and have few symptoms for long periods of time.
Talk to your doctor about ways that you can feel better during the times you have flares.
If you feel sad or anxious about your symptoms, it may also help to talk to a therapist or other mental health professional.
As you get older, you can take on more responsibility for managing your health care. Getting treatment for ulcerative colitis, managing your symptoms, and keeping a positive attitude can help get you back on track.
The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation is a good resource for more information and support.
Reviewed by: J. Fernando del Rosario, MD
Date reviewed: October 2017
Treating Colitis Williamsport PA | Colitis Symptoms
Colitis refers to inflammation of the lining of the colon. Ulcerative, microscopic and ischemic colitis are the most common types of colitis. Complications and symptoms vary depending on the type of colitis.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of colitis, meet with a skilled provider at UPMC. We offer treatment for all types of colitis in Williamsport, PA, and the surrounding areas. To learn more, please call 570-321-3454, or Find a Provider at UPMC.
The main symptom of microscopic colitis is chronic diarrhea. This disease is referred to as microscopic because inflammation cannot be seen unless a tissue sample is examined under a microscope.
On the other hand, ischemic colitis symptoms are typically more sudden, rather than gradual.
In addition to diarrhea, symptoms include:
- Stomach pain, tenderness or cramping
- Red- or maroon-colored blood in your stool or, at times, passage of blood alone without stool
- An urgent need to move your bowels
Ulcerative colitis symptoms are usually mild to moderate. Typically, doctors diagnose ulcerative colitis the location where symptoms are felt in the colon.
Depending on where colon inflammation occurs, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Diarrhea, accompanied with blood or pus
- Rectal pain and bleeding
- Weight loss
The definitive cause of microscopic colitis is unknown, but experts believe bacteria, toxins or viruses may be the main culprits. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also aggravate patients who already have colitis.
Ischemic colitis is caused when oxygen-rich blood flow is restricted from the colon. This can create a blockage in the colon. Patients who usually have ischemic colitis are elderly patients and those with vascular problems.
The causes of ulcerative colitis are not known. One theory suggests that a virus or bacterium may be responsible for interacting with the immune system, triggering a negative inflammatory reaction.
Colitis Treatment at UPMC
Microscopic and ulcerative colitis treatment depends on the severity and type of infection. Relief from microscopic colitis can occur with medication. In some cases, it can go away on its own.
Ischemic colitis may be more serious and require hospitalization. IV fluids can then be administered to the patient to prevent infection.
In more severe instances, the affected part of the colon may have to be removed.
Ulcerative colitis requires long-term medical care, which involves surgically removing the colon. Your doctor can diagnose ulcerative colitis a series of tests, a physical exam and your medical history.
The first series of tests are usually performed to determine whether you have ulcerative colitis or an infectious type of diarrhea. Following this, a colon evaluation is done. If a colitis disease is present, your doctor will run tests to see what type it is. Lab tests and fecal matter may also be tested early on.
Your doctor may also recommend two types of endoscopic tests:
- Total colonoscopy
The goal when treating ulcerative colitis is to help patients improve how their immune systems function.
Several medications exist to help ease the inflammation of the colon and reduce unpleasant symptoms.
These are the five major classes of medicines used to treat ulcerative colitis:
- Aminosalicylates (5-ASA)
- Biologic therapies
Combination therapy, additional therapy that works alongside initial therapy, may be recommended as well. A medical professional at Susquehanna Health can help you determine which type of medication is right for you.
Diet and Nutrition
Although foods don’t cause ulcerative colitis, certain foods can worsen symptoms. Spicy or high-fiber foods may cause discomfort, while softer, bland foods may be easier on the stomach. Talk with your doctor to find out which foods can help and which can hurt your health.
According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), about one-quarter to one-third of medication does not work on patients with ulcerative colitis. In these cases, surgery may be recommended, which involves the removal of the colon.
The Williamsport gastroenterologists at UPMC specialize in diagnosing and treating colitis. To determine which course of treatment may work best, speak with a doctor at UPMC.
UPMC offers complete care for colitis in Williamsport, PA, and the surrounding areas.