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. It has no known cause, although there is a genetic component to susceptibility. Ulcerative colitis is similar to Crohn's disease, but there are characteristic differences: ulcerative colitis is usually confined to the mucosa and submucosa, and
affects whole areas of intestine. (Crohn's disease tends to be patchy, and affect more layers of intestine.)
The primary problem in IBD is inflammation, as the name suggests. Inflammation is a process that often occurs in order to fight off foreign invaders in the body, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. In response to such organisms, the body's immune system begins to produce a variety of cells and chemicals intended to stop the invasion. These immune cells and chemicals, however, also have direct effects on the body's tissues, resulting in heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. No one knows what starts the cycle of inflammation in IBD, but the result is a swollen, boggy intestine. Colitis (also called ulcerative colitis) is an acute or chronic inflammation of the membrane lining the colon—your large intestine or bowel. Colitis causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the top layers of the lining of the large intestine. Ulcerative colitis rarely affects the small intestine except for the lower section, called the ileum.
The inflammation makes the colon empty frequently, causing diarrhea. Ulcers form in places where the inflammation has killed colon lining cells. The ulcers bleed and produce pus and mucus. You may have abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, painful spasms (tenesmus), lack of appetite, fever, and fatigue. Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the general name for diseases that cause inflammation in the intestines. Ulcerative colitis can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to other intestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and to another type of IBD called Crohn disease (also called Crohn’s disease). Crohn disease differs from ulcerative colitis because it causes inflammation deeper within the intestinal wall. Crohn disease usually occurs in the small intestine, but it can also occur in the mouth, esophagus, stomach, duodenum, large intestine, appendix, and anus. Ulcerative colitis affects only the colon. Another confusing condition called irritable bowel syndrome is not like either ulcerative colitis or Crohn disease. Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder of the intestine that leads to cramps, excessive production of gas, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.
Ulcerative colitis may start at any age but usually begins between the ages of 15 and 30. A small group of people have their first attack between the ages of 50 and 70. Ulcerative colitis usually does not affect the full thickness of the wall of the large intestine and rarely affects the small intestine. The disease usually begins in the rectum or the sigmoid colon (the lower end of the large intestine) and eventually spreads along the partial or entire length of the large intestine. In some people, most of the large intestine is affected early on.
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.