Ulcerative Colitis

By Kelsey Johnston

What is it?

Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the lining of the large intestine. It usually affects the lower section of the colon and the rectum. But it can affect the entire Colon.

The disease can affect people of any age. But commonly people who have it are diagnosed before the age of 30.

Diagnosis

Signs/Symptoms:



  • abdominal pain
  • increased abdominal sounds.
  • bloody stools.
  • diarrhea.
  • fever.
  • rectal pain.
  • weight loss.
  • malnutrition.




Tests Needed:

Blood Tests - To check for Anemia or signs of infection

Stool Sample - Can rule out other causes such as virus or bacterial infections, however if there is are white blood cells in your stool this may be an indicator for UC.

Colonoscopy - This allows your doctor to take a look inside with a small tube like camera. They may also take a tissue sample this way.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy - A procedure where they take a long, lighted tube and take a look into your lower colon.

X-ray - If you have severe symptoms, your doctor may use a standard X-ray of your abdominal area to rule out serious complications, such as a perforated colon.

CT scan - A CT scan of your abdomen or pelvis may be performed if your doctor suspects a complication from UC or inflammation of the small intestine. A CT scan may also reveal how much of the colon is inflamed.

Causes

The exact cause of UC remains unknown.

Diet and stress were once thought to be the cause of UC but now it's known that these only aggravate not cause UC.


One possible cause of Ulcerative Colitis is an immune system malfunction. When your immune system tries to fight off an invading virus or bacterium, an abnormal immune response causes the immune system to attack the cells in the digestive tract.


Heriditery seems to be a factor in UC. People who have Ulcerative Colitis commonly seem to have family members who have it too. However, Most people with UC don't have this family history.

Prevention

There is no way to prevent Ulcerative Colitis.

However, some people are able to decrease the frequency of symptoms. They do this by avoiding foods that seem to cause flare-ups. For some people with ulcerative colitis, this includes spicy foods and milk products.

Research being done

"For more than forty years, research supported by CCFA has contributed to the growing body of knowledge and understanding of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

Today, both CCFA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) actively support research in the field, and there are approximately 80 new therapies in the pipeline. "

- CCFA
http://www.ccfa.org/research/research-success/