The digestive system is a collective of organs- from the mouth to the anus-that works together to convert food into absorbable nutrients, which provide energy for the body. 1,2
Ulcerative Colitis is a condition that causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner
lining of the colon and rectum(the large bowel). 1
The inflammation usually begins in the rectum and lower colon, but it may affect the entire colon. 1,3
Inflamed segments are extended in a continuous, uninterrupted pattern. 1, 5
Many people are confused when it comes to the differences between inflammatory bowel disease(IBD), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. 1,5-9
Also, IBD shouldn’t be confused with irritable bowel syndrome(IBS).
Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS)
While multiple contributing factors have been found, the exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. 4,10
Men and women are equally likely to be affected, but older man are more likely to be diagnosed than older women.
It can occur at any age, though most people are diagnosed in their mid-30s.
People who have a family history of UC are more susceptible to the disease.
Abnormal immune responses may attack the healthy cells of the body, causing the symptoms of UC.
Environmental triggers such as smoking, stress, and unbalanced diet are associated with a higher risk of developing UC.
Your symptoms may vary according to how much of the colon is inflamed and how severe the inflammation is, but the most common symptoms during a flare-up are 1,11
Urgent need to move bowels and sensation of incomplete evacuation are other symptoms related to inflammation of the Gl tract. 12,13
Weight loss, night sweats and loss of normal menstrual cycle are general symptoms that may be associated with UC 12,13
An ulcerative colitis diagnosis is based on several factors, including your medical history, a physical exam, and a series of medical tests 1,14,15
To check for levels of red blood cells(or white blood cells) and whether you show signs of inflammation, infections, or anaemia.
Tested for signs for bleeding or inflammation, and to check whether your diarrhea is caused by an infection. Fecal calprotectin has been proposed as a noninvasive surrogate marker of intestinal inflammation in IBD.
Endoscope is inserted through your mouth or nose to examine your oesophagus, stomach and duodenum(the first part of the small intestine or bowel).
A short endoscope called a sigmoidoscope, or a longer and more flexible colonoscope, is inserted through the anus to examine the rectum and colon.
Perform to obtain a more detailed image of organs and tissues.
Ulcerative Colitis is chronic ongoing and life long conditions.
Therefore, the main goals of medical treatment are to achieve remission(the absence of symptoms), maintain remission(prevent flare-ups of symptoms)
and improve quality of life. 1,6
UC may range from mild to severe, and will vary from person to person. 6
Medications for UC aim to suppress the inflammation of the colon. 1
UC is ongoing and lifelong, although you may have long periods of good health know
as remission, as well relapses or flare-ups when your symptoms are more active.
Flare-ups can come on suddenly, without an obvious trigger. 1,12,17
With proper treatment over time, periods of remission can be extended and periods of symptom flare ups can be reduced. 17
A flare is the reappearance of disease symptoms. The most common symptoms of UC are: 17,18
You cannot completely prevent flare-ups of UC. But, there are several self managements that you can do to optimize your health: 1,18
The best way to control UC and reduce the risk of flares is by taking medications as recommended by your doctor.
Well informed about the details of your symptoms and stay in close communication with your doctors.
Smoking can make the symptoms of UC worse and can make it more difficult to treat.
Well-balanced nutrition is an essential part of staying healthy and minimizing the effects of the disease.
A regular exercise routine can improve overall health, and may be particularly beneficial for people with UC.
A flare-up will probably not resolve by itself, and treatment will be needed. Maintenance drugs will be continued during a flare-up, and other drugs, diet modifications, or more treatment may be prescribed by your doctor to bring the disease back under control. 18
Ulcerative Colitis is not a form of cancer. However, if you have had UC for many years, you have a greater risk than normal of developing cancer in the colon or rectum.
Ulcerative Colitis tends to run in families, and parents with IBD are slightly more likely to have a child with IBD. However, studies show for most people the actual risk is relatively small. If one parent has Colitis, the risk of their child developing IBD is about 2%.
Up to one in four people with ulcerative colitis may eventually need surgery, depending on how severe the disease is and which part(s) of the colon are affected. People with extensive or total colitis are more likely to require surgery than those with proctitis.
Tracking your diet with daily food journal can help you identify what foods and beverages work well for you and which ones don’t.
Used during corticosteroid therapy to reduce water retention
Used to avoid blockages in UC patients with strictures and to avoid stimulating bowel movements
Typically recommended during a flare in UC when fat absorption may become an issue
For those who have an intolerance to dairy products
For those who experience weight loss or growth delay
It may cause diarrhea and gas
It may cause excessive gas
It may cause a severe diarrhea
1. Crohn’s and Colitis UK. Ulcerative Colitis Your Guide Edition 9d. Available at http://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/files.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/Publications/ulcerative-colitis.pdf Accessed June 2020
2. IBD clinic. Digestive system and its function. Available at http://www.ibdclinic.ca/what-is-ibd/digestive -system-and-its-function/ Accessed June 2020
3. Armando Hasudungan. Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Available at https://armandoh.org/disease/inflammatory-bowel-disease/ Accessed June 2020
4. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Overview of Ulcerative Colitis. Available at https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/overview Accessed June 2020
5. Ulcerative Colitis. Available at https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/gastroenterology_hepatology/_pdfs/small_large_intestine/ulcerative_colitis.pdf Accessed June 2020
6. IBD clinic. Ulcerative colitis. Available at http://www.ibdclinic.ca/what-is-ibd/ulcerative-colitis/ Accessed June 2020
7. IBDrelief. Medication options for inflammatory bowel disease. Available at https://www.ibdrelief.com/ learn/treatment/medication-for-ibd Accessed June 2020
8. IBD clinic. Frequently asked questions. Available at http://www.ibdclinic.ca/what-is-ibd/who-getsibd-fact-and-fiction/ Accessed June 2020
9. Mayo Clinic. Irritable bowel syndrome. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016 Accessed June 2020
10. Patient Information. Ulcerative Colitis. Available at https://patient.info/digestive-health/inflammatory-bowel-disease/ulcerative-colitis Accessed June 2020
11. NYU Langone Health. Diagnosing Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Adults. Available at https://nyulangone.org/conditions/inflammatory-bowel-disease-in-adults/diagnosis Accessed February 2020
12. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Signs and Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis. Available at https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/symptoms Accessed June 2020
13. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. The facts about inflammatory bowel disease. Available at https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/pdfs/updatedibdfactbook.pdf Accessed August 2020
14. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis and Testing. Available at https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/diagnosis-testing Accessed June 2020
15. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Diagnosing and Managing IBD. Available at https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/pdfs/diagnosing-and-managing-ibd-1.pdf Accessed June 2020
17. Crohn’s and Colitis. Ulcerative Colitis Treatment Options. Available at https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/treatment-options Accessed June 2020
18. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Living with Ulcerative Colitis. Available at https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/pdfs/living-with-ulcerative.pdf Accessed June 2020
CT, computed tomography; GI, gastrointestinal; IBD, inflammatory bowel disease; IBS, irritable bowel syndrome; MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; UC, ulcerative colitis;
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