About Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a lifelong, chronic disease that primarily affects the lining of the large intestine by causing ulcers (sores). UC is one form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Other forms include Crohn’s disease and indeterminate colitis.
Inflammation in the large intestine from UC begins in the rectum (the last part of the colon) and in most cases, spreads up to the other sections of the large intestine. Signs and symptoms of UC can include diarrhea, abdominal pain, blood in the stool, fatigue, fevers, and unintentional weight loss. Symptoms are highly individualized and for some can be considered severe enough to impact daily life.
Treatments for UC are aimed at calming inflammation and preventing the spread of ulceration. The goal of treatment is to induce remission, which includes not only the cessation of symptoms, but also healing of the ulcers in the large intestine. Treatments can include 5-ASA medications (both oral and those given through an enema or suppository), corticosteroids, and biologics. Surgery is also used as a treatment for UC, with the removal of the large intestine (colectomy) and creation of a j-pouch (where an internal pouch is created from the small intestine) being the most popular surgical choice. An ileostomy, where an external appliance is worn on the abdomen to collect waste, is another surgical treatment for UC, and most people enjoy a vastly improved quality of life.
People with UC should be treated by a gastroenterologist to ensure that much-needed care is being received. Untreated UC can lead to complications and lowered quality of life. For most people, remission is an attainable goal, and newer treatments offer the greatest chance for keeping inflammation from recurring and spreading.
About Ulcerative Colitis (UC)
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Ulcerative colitis. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/ulcerative-colitis. Accessed February 14, 2018.