Living with a chronic disease is no joke. Not only does it disrupt your ability to perform your daily tasks and live the best life you can, but often it is not easily cured or treated. Not to mention, many often result in long-term pain and discomfort.
This is especially true for chronic diseases that affect the digestive system. Given how important digestion is for our bodies to function, any problems with the digestive organs can severely weaken a person, cause pain, and rob the person of the ability to enjoy eating.
One of the most debilitating digestive disorders is ulcerative colitis. What makes it particularly serious is that it has no known cure, and can only be managed through constant and regular treatment. Fortunately, multiple clinics and specialists in Sandy, Utah can help those afflicted, but it is important that it is diagnosed as early as possible.
Here is all the information you need to know about this serious disease:
What is it?
Ulcerative colitis is a disease affecting the large intestine or the colon. An inflammatory bowel disease, it is characterized by the inflammation of the lining of the colon, which leads to the development of small open sores, or ulcers, along the lining. These ulcers produce pus and mucus, resulting in constant discomfort and abdominal pain, as well as a need to frequently empty your colon.
There exist different types of ulcerative colitis, which are classified according to the location of the sores along the colon. Ulcerative proctitis occurs when inflammation is limited to the rectum, and usually only results in rectal bleeding and pain, and is thus the mildest form of ulcerative colitis.
With left-sided colitis, the inflammation begins at the rectum and extends to the lower segment of the colon, known as the sigmoid colon. This results in pain on the left side of the abdomen, as well as bloody diarrhea and unintended weight loss. Lastly, the most serious is extensive colitis, which refers to an inflammation of the entire colon. This results in a complete inability to eat, as well as severe pain, diarrhea, bleeding, and fever.
What causes it?
The exact cause of ulcerative colitis remains unknown, though much research suggests that a malfunctioning immune system plays a key role. In ulcerative colitis patients, when there is a viral or bacterial infection in the colon, the inflammation – which is normally used to fight the infection – continues to persist, leading white blood cells to produce ulcers in the lining instead.
While there is no known precise cause yet, there are various risk factors for ulcerative colitis. These include older age, race or ethnicity, and genetics or family history.
What are its symptoms?
The primary symptom of ulcerative colitis is severe bleeding and diarrhea. Other symptoms may include dehydration, inflammation of the skin, weight loss, and the loss of appetite. At the same time, a defining characteristic of patients with ulcerative colitis is the frequent need to use the bathroom and feeling as if you have not completely emptied yourself even after doing your business.
What treatments are available?
There are various treatments for ulcerative colitis, with the best form of treatment being a combination of these. Medication is a must to help suppress the inflammation in the colon and allow for healing. It is also helpful in mitigating the symptoms.
Doctors may also recommend specialized therapies, such as the use of biologic immunomodulators to improve the immune system response. Many patients also opt for surgery to remove the affected part of the colon.