What are the complications of ulcerative colitis?
Bleeding, the most common complication, often causes iron deficiency anemia. In nearly 10% of people with ulcerative colitis, a rapidly progressive first attack becomes very severe, with massive bleeding, perforation, or widespread infection.
Toxic colitis, a particularly severe complication, involves damage to the entire thickness of the intestinal wall. The damage causes ileus - a condition in which the normal contractile movements of the intestinal wall temporarily stop - so that the intestinal contents are not propelled along their way. Abdominal expansion (distention) develops.
As toxic colitis worsens, the large intestine loses muscle tone, and within days - or even hours - it starts to expand. X-rays of the abdomen show gas inside the paralyzed sections of intestine.
Toxic megacolon occurs when the large intestine greatly expands (distends). The person is severely ill and may have a high fever. The person also has pain and tenderness in the abdomen and a high white blood cell count. If the intestine ruptures, the risk of death is great. However, of the people who receive prompt treatment before rupture occurs, fewer than 4% die.
Colon cancer occurs in as many as 1 of 100 people with ulcerative colitis each year in the later stages of their illness; 10 of 100 people with extensive ulcerative colitis develop colon cancer over their lifetime. The risk of colon cancer is highest when the entire large intestine is affected and the person has had ulcerative colitis for more than 8 years, regardless of how active the disease is. Colonoscopy (examination of the large intestine using a flexible viewing tube) every 1 to 2 years is advised for people who have had ulcerative colitis for at least 8 years. During colonoscopy, tissue samples are obtained throughout the large intestine for microscopic examination. Most people survive if the diagnosis of cancer is made during the cancer's early stages.
Other complications can occur, as in Crohn's disease. When ulcerative colitis causes a flare-up of gastrointestinal symptoms, the person also may experience inflammation of the joints (arthritis), inflammation of the whites of the eyes (episcleritis), inflamed skin nodules (erythema nodosum), and blue-red skin sores containing pus (pyoderma gangrenosum). When ulcerative colitis is not causing a flare-up of gastrointestinal symptoms, the person still may experience inflammation of the spine (ankylosing spondylitis), inflammation of the pelvic joints (sacroiliitis), and inflammation of the inside of the eye (uveitis).
Although people with ulcerative colitis commonly have minor liver dysfunction, only about 1 to 3% have symptoms of mild to severe liver disease. Severe liver disease can include inflammation of the liver (chronic active hepatitis); inflammation of the bile ducts (primary sclerosing cholangitis), which narrow and eventually close; and replacement of functional liver tissue with scar tissue (cirrhosis). Inflammation of the bile ducts may appear many years before any intestinal symptoms of ulcerative colitis; bile duct inflammation greatly increases the risk of cancer of the bile ducts and may even increase the risk of colon cancer.
More information on inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease)
What are the inflammatory bowel diseases? - Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic disorder that causes an inflamed and swollen digestive tract or intestinal wall.
What causes inflammatory bowel diseases? - The cause of inflammatory bowel disease is not known. Chronic inflammation present in the intestines of persons with both forms of IBD damages the bowel.
What are the symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases? - Symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases can include chronic diarrhea, abdominal cramps or pain, fever, and blood or mucus in the stool.
How is inflammatory bowel disease diagnosed? - To make a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, a doctor must first exclude other possible causes of inflammation.
What're the treatments for inflammatory bowel disease? - Inflammatory bowel disease is treated with medication, exercise, and sometimes, surgery. Treatments for IBD are directed against the inflammation in the bowel.
What're the medications for inflammatory bowel disease? - Medications for inflammatory bowel disease include sulfasalazine, corticosteroids, immunosuppressives, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
What is Crohn's disease? - Crohn's Disease is a chronic illness that causes irritation in the digestive tract. Crohn's disease occurs in the last portion of intestine (ileum).
What types of Crohn's disease are there? - There are five subtypes of Crohn's disease, distinguished by the gastrointestinal area in which the disease occurs.
What causes Crohn's disease? - The cause of Crohn's disease is unknown. There is now evidence of a genetic link as Crohn's frequently shows up in a family group.
What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease? - The symptoms of Crohn's disease include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite and weight loss.
What are the complications of Crohn's disease? - Common complications of Crohn's disease include the development of an intestinal obstruction, pus-filled pockets of infection, and abnormal connecting channels.
How is Crohn's disease diagnosed? - The diagnosis of Crohn's disease is suspected in patients with fever, abdominal pain and tenderness, diarrhea with or without bleeding, and anal diseases.
What're the treatments for Crohn's disease? - Treatment for Crohn's disease is mainly symptomatic. Medications are very effective at improving the symptoms of Crohn's disease.
What medications cure Crohn's disease? - Medications for Crohn's disease sulfasalazine, Asacol, Pentasa and Dipentum. Mesalamine is useful both to achieve and maintain remission.
What's the surgery for Crohn's disease treatment? - Surgery to remove part of the intestine can help Crohn's disease but cannot cure it. The most used operation in Crohn disease is removing the diseased part of the intestine.
What Crohn's disease diet is suggested? - Diet may have to be restricted based on symptoms or complications of Crohn's disease. No particular food has ever been implicated in causing Crohn's disease.
Crohn's disease in children - Crohn's disease is most often diagnosed in young adulthood. Children facing Crohn's disease have significant self-image issues to deal with.
Crohn's disease and pregnancy women - Women with Crohn's disease who are considering having children can be comforted to know that the vast majority of such pregnancies will result in normal children.
What is ulcerative colitis? - Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease of the bowel, that usually affects the distal end of the large intestine and rectum.
What types of ulcerative colitis are there? - Doctors categorize ulcerative colitis by the amount of colon involved. Variability of symptoms reflects differences in the extent of disease and the intensity of inflammation.
What causes ulcerative colitis? - The cause of ulcerative colitis is not known, but heredity and an overactive immune response in the intestine may be contributing factors.
What are the symptoms of ulcerative colitis? - The symptoms vary according to the extent of the disease. The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea.
What are the complications of ulcerative colitis? - Bleeding, the most common complication of ulcerative colitis, often causes iron deficiency anemia.
How is ulcerative colitis diagnosed? - Diagnosis of ulcerative colitis is suspected based on the symptoms that a patient is experiencing. The most important method of diagnosis is endoscopy.
What are the treatments for ulcerative colitis? - Treatment of ulcerative colitis depends on the location and severity of a patient's disease, the presence of complications.
What ulcerative colitis medications are available? - Medications for ulcerative colitis include 5-ASA Compounds, anticholinergic drugs, steroids, and immunosuppressive drugs.
What surgery treats ulcerative colitis? - Surgery for ulcerative colitis involves removal of the entire colon, regardless of whether all or only a portion of the colon is diseased.
Collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis - Collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis are chronic diseases in which certain kinds of white blood cells infiltrate the lining of the large intestine.