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Ulcerative Colitis FAQs

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Following are common questions about Ulcerative Colitis:

  1. What do you mean by Ulcerative Colitis?
  2. How does Ulcerative Colitis affect colon?
  3. What causes Ulcerative Colitis?
  4. What do you mean by autoimmune disorder?
  5. What are the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?
  6. Who are at the greatest risk of suffering from Ulcerative Colitis?
  7. What tests does a doctor order for Ulcerative Colitis?
  8. What are the treatment options of Ulcerative Colitis?
  9. Can I prevent Ulcerative Colitis?
  10. What are the dietary recommendations for preventing or reducing discomforts during Ulcerative Colitis?
  11. Can dietary changes alone bring about complete cure?
  12. Can ulcerative colitis prove fatal?
  13. Can ulcerative colitis lead to colon cancer?
  14. Does ulcerative colitis interfere with normal pregnancy?

  1. What do you mean by Ulcerative Colitis?

    Ulcerative Colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disorder that affects the colon and rectum lining. The inflammation starts in the rectum, where small ulcers are formed, and then proceeds to the colon. In rarest of cases, Ulcerative Colitis may affect the small intestine beyond the lower most portion. However, the chances for this are very low or negligible. These ulcers are formed as colon cells die and lead to mucus and pus discharge.

  2. How does Ulcerative Colitis affect colon?

    Ulcerative Colitis affects the bowel lining causing excessive damage and death of cells. This condition leads to the formation of ulcers. Formation of ulcers proceeds to bleeding, discharge of mucus and pus. The condition weakens the colon to an extent that the organ no longer is capable of continuing with its normal functioning, leading to frequent bowel movements.

  3. What causes Ulcerative Colitis?

    It is unfortunate that causes of Ulcerative Colitis are still unknown. Earlier, doctors and researchers suggested that stress, trauma and wrong diet were the probable reasons. However, lately they have confirmed that these factors only add up to the problem but don't generate the ailment.

    Today, the most common assumption about the disease is that it is taken to be an autoimmune disorder (Explained in answer to next question). Again, there are few researchers who take genetic problems to be one possible reason. Researchers continue to drive out the exact cause leading to this health problem.

  4. What do you mean by autoimmune disorder?

    Autoimmune disorder is a condition where your immune system functions wrongly and attacks cells of the body. Our immune system is required to identify reasons of threat and then generate antibodies to fight the possible foreign entity and eliminate chances of threat.

    However in some cases, as is thought about in Ulcerative Colitis, the body affects harmless and rather important bacteria within the colon lining, and thus results in colon inflammation. As explained above, inflammation results in death of cells and formation of ulcers.

  5. What are the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?

    The symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis are as follows:

    • Pain in the belly
    • Rectum Bleeding
    • Acute Diarrhea
    • Some may even have problems of defecating despite the need
    • Stool accompanied with blood
    • Excessive weight loss

    As the disease progresses, it leads to following additional symptoms:

    • Body pain
    • Swelling around joints
    • Dehydration
    • Ulcer formation proceeds to other parts of skin
    • Sores in the mouth
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Eye troubles
    • Liver diseases

  6. Who are at the greatest risk of suffering from Ulcerative Colitis?

    Ulcerative colitis may affect anybody belonging to any gender or age. However, doctors suggest that some remain at greater risk of suffering from the disease. These factors that make individuals more susceptible to the condition include:

    • Age is a an essential aspect governing possibilities:
      1. Men and women below the age of 30 remain more susceptible to the disease
      2. Teenagers around 15 years have the highest chances of developing this disease
      3. However, patients above 30 can even develop the disease at some point of time
      4. Individuals above 60 years remain at the lowest possibility of suffering from the disease
    • Patients who have someone suffering from the disease in family: As genetics is considered as one of the causative reasons behind the disease, people who have family history need to be more careful as they are likely to develop the same after some of time. Visiting a doctor and opting for health screening exams is suggested.
    • Europeans are more susceptible than Asians: Race plays an important deciding factor. Europeons, Black and some Jewish communities remain at greater risk of developing the disease when compared to Asian population. However, this does not mean that Asians can never develop the ailment.
    • Medication such as Isotretinoin: Isotretinoin is effective in treating acne or cystic acnes. This medicine is assumed to increase the risk of developing Immune Bowel Disorders in some people. Therefore, use of this medicine is supposed to increase the risk factor of Ulcerative Colitis.

  7. What tests does a doctor order for Ulcerative Colitis?

    Symptoms can very well determine the condition. However, doctors do order for number of diagnostic tests and exams for Ulcerative Colitis. Following are the common diagnosis procedures available for Ulcerative Colitis:

    • A blood test to check for anemic conditions
    • Stool Test to rule out gastroenteritis conditions, as these can also lead to similar symptoms as in Ulcerative Colitis
    • Sigmoidoscopy: A procedure that involves insertion of a thin tube attached to a camera into your rectum. This allows your doctor to examine inside of your lower colon and rectum; thus, determining the exact condition.
      The procedure also enables a small collection of tissues from the area that can be sent to a laboratory for testing. This procedure is known as Biopsy. The entire procedure can take around 15 minutes and you will be given sedatives to remain relaxed.
    • Colonoscopy: A similar procedure to sigmoidoscopy; however, this enables your doctor to examine every part of your colon and not just the lower section as in Sigmoidoscopy. The procedure is only opted when sigmoidoscopy results suggest that the infection could have spread to upper part of colon or the entire organ. The techniques also remain the same with the only difference being the type of tube used.

  8. What are the treatment options of Ulcerative Colitis?

    Ulcerative Colitis has two treatment options as follows:

    • Early diagnosis of the ailment can be treated with medication
    • Surgical removal of colon becomes necessary when the problem becomes severe

    Medication: Doctors suggest drugs that help to reduce inflammation and diarrhea. As frequent bowel movements result in dehydration, your doctor will try to treat this condition as well. Hospitalization may also be suggested if there is excessive loss of water from the body. Some times, medications to control immune system functions are also suggested.

    Surgical treatment: If there is excessive bleeding that cannot be controlled with medicines, Ulcerative Colitis needs a surgical cure. Colon may get surgically removed to reduce bleeding and eliminate chances of cancer.
    Once the colon is removed, the doctor makes a small opening in the abdominal wall that connects to the lowest portion of small intestine. Waste from the small intestine moves through the opening and collects in a bag. The entire process is known as Proctocolectomy.
    If only a part of the colon is removed retaining the rectum, the procedure is known as Ileoanal anastomosis.

  9. Can I prevent Ulcerative Colitis?

    As the causes are not yet confirmed, exact preventive measures cannot be suggested. However still, making changes in your diet and lowering stress can definitely help to prevent. Moreover, being more cautious if you are having a family history can help to take early actions.

  10. What are the dietary recommendations for preventing or reducing discomforts during Ulcerative Colitis?

    • Limit intake of milk products if lactose intolerant: People suffering from other Inflammation Bowel Disorders are seen to benefit from reduced dairy product intake. Therefore, if you are suffering from Ulcerative Colitis, you too can reduce the severity of symptoms by reducing milk and milk product intake.
    • Avoid fatty food: Lowering fatty food consumption can reduce diarrhea and thus ease your symptoms.
    • Limiting Fiber: Some people may develop problems due to high intake of fiber. Although fiber is good for your health; sometimes patients may suffer severity of symptoms due to high intake of fiber.
    • Small and frequent meals: Eating small amounts in shorter intervals relaxes your digestive system and gives sufficient time to perform averagely well and remain close to normal. Always try to drink sufficient water. Intake of fluids is also beneficial as they are easily digested and thus does not over load your system.

  11. Can dietary changes alone bring about complete cure?

    No. Diet cannot help to cure the disease. It is only medicines and surgery that can treat the condition. However, above dietary recommendations can help to ease out the severity of symptoms and deliver some relief.

  12. Can ulcerative colitis prove fatal?

    Not generally. The disease can be well controlled with medication and surgery. However, late diagnosis can result in additional health disorders and some of them can be fatal. Therefore, opting for timely diagnosis and treatment is something that is of utmost importance.

  13. Can ulcerative colitis lead to colon cancer?

    Yes, if the entire colon is affected. On the other hand, if it is only your lower colon and rectum that are affected, you cannot be precisely considered to be a potential candidate to develop colon cancer. Your chances can be same as anyone else who is not suffering from the disease. Therefore, the doctor needs to conduct an early diagnosis to know how severe is your ulcer.

  14. Does ulcerative colitis interfere with normal pregnancy?

    Women suffering from the disease will mostly have normal pregnancies. However, if you suddenly experience a flare up in the symptoms during pregnancy, then you need to visit the doctor immediately.

    In addition, if you suddenly develop colitis symptoms during pregnancy, it is risky. You become more likely to give birth to premature babies.

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