- What Is It?
The life expectancy of patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) is usually the same as anybody without the disease. UC is a lifelong disease with periods of flareups and remission (periods without symptoms, which may last for weeks or years). The longer the periods of remission, the general condition of the patient would be better, and lower will be the risk of complications. About 10% of patients improve after one attack, and the rest have multiple flares throughout life. Appropriate treatment, diet, and lifestyle modifications are necessary to prevent complications some of which could be life-threatening. The doctor would advise a treatment plan even during the periods of remission. Regular screening with colonoscopy is required, the frequency of which would be planned by the doctor. It may be done once every one to three years.
What is ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the inner lining of the large intestine (large bowel) leading to erosion and ulcers. It is a lifelong illness with no specific cause or cure. Patients have repeated cycles of flare-ups and remission with potential extraintestinal manifestations. There is a profound emotional and social impact on the affected patients.
What are the causes of ulcerative colitis?
The exact cause of ulcerative colitis (UC) is unknown. However, research has revealed some possible causes for the disease:
- Immune reactions:
- The body’s immune system attacks the inner lining of the large intestine (an autoimmune disorder).
- Environmental factors:
- Consumption may flare up the disease.
What are the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis?
The signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis (UC) are as follows:
- Rectal bleeding
- Frequent stools
- Mucous discharge from the rectum
- Tenesmus (constantly feeling the need to empty the bowels)
- Lower abdominal pain and cramps
- Severe diarrhea
- Abdominal distention/bloating
- Increased heart rate
- Weight loss
- Pus discharge through the anus
- Extracolonic manifestations (inflammation of the eyes, joints, skin, and lungs)
What are the types of ulcerative colitis?
There are five different types of ulcerative colitis.
- Ulcerative proctitis: Inflammation limited to the area close to the anus (rectum). Symptoms are usually mild, and rectal bleeding may be the only sign.
- Proctosigmoiditis: Inflammation involves the lower end of the colon
- Left-sided colitis: Inflammation extends from the rectum up through the sigmoid and descending colon
- Pancolitis: Involves the entire colon
- Acute severe ulcerative colitis (UC): This rare form of colitis affects the entire colon and causes severe pain, profuse diarrhea, bleeding, fever, and inability to eat.
The severity of UC can be graded as follows:
- Mild: Bleeding through the rectum and fewer than four bowel motions per day
- Moderate: Bleeding through the rectum with more than four bowel motions per day
- Severe: Bleeding through the rectum more than four bowel motions per day and a widespread (systemic) illness with protein loss
How is ulcerative colitis diagnosed?
The physician would do a complete physical assessment, advice a series of specialized blood and radiological investigations (X-ray, computed tomography [CT] scan, etc.). Colonoscopy, endoscopy, biopsy, stool examination, and other tests may be done.
What is the treatment of ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a lifelong disease with constant periods of flare-ups and remission (relief in symptoms). Presently, there is no permanent medical cure for it, but there are various medications that can provide symptomatic relief, reduce inflammation, and manage flare-ups.
Treatment involves medical and surgical management depending on the disease severity. Patients would also require dietary and lifestyle changes.
- Medical treatment includes the following:
- Medication to suppress and/or modulate the immune system
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Surgical treatment includes the following:
- Colectomy (surgical removal of part of the colon or whole colon) may be required in severe cases.
- Dietary changes:
- Diet low in fat, meat, sulfur and milk
- Management of psychological stress and emotional support
What are the complications of ulcerative colitis?
The possible complications of ulcerative colitis are as follows:
- Bleeding: The ulcers and erosions in the inner lining of the large intestine can perforate through the layers of the intestine causing bleeding.
- Nutrition loss and dehydration: Chronic diarrhea and inflammation lead to dehydration, nutrition loss, and a decrease in the absorption of nutrients.
- Inflammation of other organs: Inflammation of the eyes, joints, skin, liver, and lungs
- Toxic megacolon: A rare complication that causes swelling and ballooning of the colon manifesting as:
- Swollen and painful abdomen
- Colon cancer and ulcerative colitis (UC): The chances of colon cancer increase if the patient has had UC for over eight years. Appropriate treatment and the availability of new treatment options for UC have lowered the risk of colon cancer.
Latest Digestion News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Life Expectancy of Someone With Ulcerative Colitis Related Articles
Abdominal Pain PicturesAbdominal pain is a symptom of many possible conditions including appendicitis, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and other conditions. It may accompany constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms. Find out the potential causes of pain in the abdomen and learn when you should see a doctor.
Canker SoresCanker sores are a common complaint, and are small ulcers on the inside of the mouth. Canker sores aren't contagious (as opposed to cold sores), and typically last for 10-14 days usually healing without scarring. A variety of things cause canker sores, for example, medications (aspirin, beta-blockers, NSAIDs, high blood pressure medication, and antibiotics); injury to the mouth from dental work, braces, or sports accidents; acidic foods; allergies; and diseases or conditions like celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and lupus. Canker sores can be cure with home remedies, and prescription and OTC topical and oral medication.
Clostridium Difficile Colitis (C. diff, C. difficle Colitis)Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a bacterium, and is one of the most common causes of infection of the colon. C. difficile spores are found frequently in hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities, and nurseries for newborn infants.
Crohn's DiseaseCrohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect other parts of the digestive system as well. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss are common symptoms.
DiarrheaDiarrhea is a change is the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal pain, and the sensation of rectal urgency. Causes of diarrhea include viral, bacterial, or parasite infection, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and drugs. Absorbents and anti-motility medications are used to treat diarrhea.
IBD SlideshowWhat is inflammatory bowel disease? IBD can include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Learn more about testing, treatments, and the home care needed to manage inflammatory bowel disease.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a GI (gastrointestinal) disorder with signs and symptoms that include abdominal pain, bloating, increased gas (flatulence), abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and food intolerance.Two new tests are now available that may help diagnose irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea and constipation (IBS-M) irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D), and irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C). Treatment for IBS includes diet changes, medications, and other lifestyle changes to manage symptoms.
Microscopic Colitis (Lymphocytic Colitis and Collagenous Colitis)Microscopic colitis (lymphocytic colitis and collagenous colitis) is a disease of inflammation of the colon. Microscopic colitis is only visible when the colon's lining is examined under a microscope. The cause of microscopic colitis is not known. Symptoms of microscopic colitis are chronic watery diarrhea and abdominal pain or cramps.
Psoriatic ArthritisPsoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes skin and joint inflammation. Symptoms and signs include painful, stiff, and swollen joints, tendinitis, and organ inflammation. Treatment involves anti-inflammatory medications and exercise.
Psoriatic Arthritis SlidesPsoriatic arthritis pain can be treated. Get more information on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and medications for psoriatic arthritis on the hands, feet nails, and elsewhere.
Reactive ArthritisReactive arthritis is a chronic, systemic rheumatic disease characterized by three conditions, including conjunctivitis, joint inflammation, and genital, urinary, or gastrointestinal system inflammation. Inflammation leads to pain, swelling, warmth, redness, and stiffness of the affected joints. Non-joint areas may experience irritation and pain. Treatment for reactive arthritis depends on which area of the body is affected. Joint inflammation is treated with anti-inflammatory medications.
Ulcerative ColitisUlcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the colon. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. Ulcerative colitis is closely related to Crohn's disease, and together they are referred to as inflammatory bowel disease. Treatment depends upon the type of ulcerative colitis diagnosed.
Ulcerative Colitis QuizWhat is ulcerative colitis and what risks are associated with suffering over the long term? Take this Ulcerative Colitis Quiz to learn causes, symptoms, and treatments for this painful digestive disorder.
Ulcerative ColitisUlcerative Colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease and is slightly different than Crohn's disease. Learn the causes, symptoms, diet, and treatment options associated with ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative Colitis SurgeryUlcerative colitis surgery is performed on approximately 25% to 40% of people with the disease. There are various types of ulcerative colitis. Complications of the surgery include pouch failure, intestinal blockage from adhesions, inflammation of the pouch, and more watery and frequent bowel movements.