Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, is characterized by abdominal pain and diarrhea. Like Crohn's disease, another common IBD, ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and sometimes can lead to life-threatening complications.
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Ulcerative colitis usually affects only the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. It occurs only through continuous stretches of your colon, unlike Crohn's disease, which occurs in patches anywhere in the digestive tract and often spreads deep into the layers of affected tissues.
There's no known cure for ulcerative colitis, but therapies are available that may dramatically reduce the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis and even bring about a long-term remission.
Ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of inflammation and where it occurs. For these reasons, doctors often classify ulcerative colitis according to its location.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you experience a persistent change in your bowel habits or if you have any of the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis, such as:
Although ulcerative colitis usually isn't fatal, it's a serious disease that, in some cases, may cause life-threatening complications. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you need to see your physician as soon as possible.
Ulcerative colitis occurs in 35–100 people for every 100,000 in the United States, or less than 0.1% of the population. Although ulcerative colitis has no known cause, there is a presumed genetic component to susceptibility.
Researchers have concluded that the disease may be triggered in a susceptible person by environmental factors. Although dietary modification may reduce the discomfort of a person with the disease, ulcerative colitis is not thought to be caused by dietary factors. Although ulcerative colitis is treated as though it were an autoimmune disease, there is no consensus that it is such. There are still a lot of unanswered questions concerning the causes of this disease.
Treatment is with anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppression, and biological therapy targeting specific components of the immune response. Colectomy (partial or total removal of the large bowel through surgery) is occasionally necessary, and is considered to be a cure for the disease.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you could be at risk. We reccomend that you see your physician as soon as possible. Digestive Disease Associates is experienced in with cases of Ulcerative Colitis. Please feel free to call us for an appointment so we can give you an evaluation.