Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that results when the body’s immune system mistakes food or bacteria in the intestine as an invading substance. It is a chronic disease of the colon, which causes the lining of the large intestine to become inflamed and develop small sores that produce pus and mucous.
Although other disorders, such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, there are important distinctions between those conditions and ulcerative colitis. For example, while Crohn’s can distress any part of the GI tract, ulcerative colitis only disturbs the lining of the colon. And although IBS affects the muscle contractions of the colon, it is not characterized by intestinal inflammation.
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis show up in many other conditions, making it complicated to diagnose.
Common symptoms in people with Ulcerative Colitis
- Diarrhea: ― One of the most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis is diarrhea that contains blood or pus.
- Abdominal pain and cramping ― Abdominal pain and cramping are common during an ulcerative colitis flare-up. The pain may come on before or during a bowel movement.
- Loose and urgent bowel movements: ― The sudden urge to have a bowel movement may happen at predictable at times, such as right after eating, but it may also come on suddenly and unexpectedly.
- Fatigue: ― The loss of energy associated with ulcerative colitis may be the result of:
- Anemia from bleeding in the colon
- The failure of the body to absorb food energy through the inflamed colon
- Dehydration from diarrhea
- Loss of appetite that leaves the body low on fuel
- Weight Loss: ― The frequent loss of calories due to diarrhea and the body’s failure to absorb the fuel from food often results in weight loss for people with ulcerative colitis.
Talk to your doctor about Ulcerative Colitis symptoms
The symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis tend to come and go, sometimes with months between flare-ups. Because many of the symptoms often show up in other conditions and diseases, ulcerative colitis can be tricky to diagnose. If you have the above symptoms, talk to your doctor.
To diagnose ulcerative colitis, your doctor will look at your medical history and perform both a physical exam and a series of tests meant to differentiate ulcerative colitis from infectious causes of diarrhea. The process of diagnosis also usually includes an evaluation of the colon by way of either a sigmoidoscopy or total colonoscopy.
If you do receive a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, the next step is to explore treatment options. Your doctor will help with that, too.
At Precision Research Institute in San Diego, we may be able to offer participation in one of our research trials for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
For more information about our current medical research studies in general or ulcerative colitis in particular, give us a call or fill out our online contact form. Qualified participants will receive compensation for time and travel.
For more information, give us a call or fill out our online contact form. Qualified participants will receive compensation for time and travel.