What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Many diseases and disorders affecting the digestive system (GI) can be difficult to treat due to the distressing symptoms they cause and the unpleasant diagnostic procedures required to pinpoint the problem. They are so socially awkward that they can even cause embarrassment at visits to a gastroenterologist (a doctor specializing in digestive issues). In most cases, a diagnosis of this kind is made between the ages of 15 and 30.
Gastrointestinal tract diseases can be chronic and inflammatory, and ulcerative colitis (UC) is one example. Ulcers and inflammation can happen in the colon. They might start in the rectum and move to the large intestine.
An overactive immune system is the definitive cause of UC, with multiple complex contributing factors, including genetics and environmental upbringing. There is currently no known cure, but inflammation can be managed through anti-inflammatory medications and surgical intervention in more severe cases.
Fifty percent of people diagnosed with UC have only mild symptoms such as nausea, anemia, and weight loss. In addition, patients may develop osteoarthritis and liver disease as these conditions progress. Common severe symptoms of UC include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, high fever, dehydration, and joint swelling.
Increased risk of contracting this illness is associated with the following:
- consumption of a high-fat diet
- habitually utilizing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- or being related to someone with IBD.
Although both UC and colitis result in colon inflammation, the latter is typically brought on by infections and bacteria and should not be confused with UC. UC is more serious than colitis because it may be a lifelong condition (unrelated to infections) requiring constant medical attention.
Your doctor will need to know your full medical history, including whether or not you have a family history of Crohn’s disease, UC, or other autoimmune disorders. You should bring a list of your medications, including vitamins and herbal remedies.
During the physical exam, your doctor will probably check your temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. A stethoscope may be used to listen to your abdomen, and your belly may be felt to check for tenderness. They may conduct a digital rectal exam if they find blood in the feces. Your doctor may use diagnostic procedures like a CT scan, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy to diagnose and treat your condition.
To rule out other bowel diseases, doctors may order additional testing in addition to a biopsy, imaging, and endoscopic examinations. Complete blood count, C-reactive protein, antibodies, and other blood tests are among these. Inflammatory markers like bacteria, parasites, and blood may also be detected in stool tests by the doctor.
Some people with UC only ever have one episode of symptoms. Others may experience recurrent, mild-to-severe episodes. But drugs like Colazal can keep inflammation at bay for months at a time. Sufferers of UC can benefit from dietary restrictions, certain natural remedies (with the doctor’s approval), and physical activity.
Because high fat can bring on flare-ups and diarrhea in IBD, eating low fat can help with treatment by providing symptomatic relief. Vitamin C-rich foods, such as spinach, bell peppers, etc., promote UC remission for longer periods of time.
Even though eating more fiber is commonly believed to help reduce symptoms, it is actually the fiber intake that requires the most caution. While eating more insoluble fiber makes UC worse, eating more soluble fiber helps ease the discomfort of UC by preventing or relieving constipation, cramping, and other symptoms.
Self-help for UC involves recognizing and avoiding behaviors and subtle symptoms that make the condition worse. We can have longer remission periods while managing this disease, but only if we get medical help right away if our symptoms worsen.
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