Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD comprises a group of diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract. Ulcerative colitis occurs when the lining of the large intestine (colon or bowel) and the rectum become inflamed. This inflammation produces tiny sores called ulcers on the lining of the colon. It usually begins in the rectum and spreads upward. It rarely affects the small intestine beyond the lower portion.
HOW IS ULCERATIVE COLITIS DIAGNOSED?
Tests to diagnose ulcerative colitis include:
• stool test: a doctor examines your stool for blood, bacteria, and parasites
• endoscopy: a doctor uses a flexible tube to examine the stomach, esophagus, and small intestine
• colonoscopy: diagnostic test that involves insertion of a long, flexible tube into the rectum to examine the inside of the colon
• biopsy: a surgeon removes a tissue sample from the colon
• barium enema: X-rays are taken of your colon and rectum, using barium to provide contrast
• blood test
HOW IS ULCERATIVE COLITIS TREATED?
Your gastroenterologist or physician may prescribe a medication to reduce inflammation and swelling. These types of medications include sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), mesalamine (Asacol and Lialda), balsalazide (Colazal), and olsalazine (Dipentum). Reducing inflammation will help alleviate abdominal cramps and diarrhea. More serious cases may need corticosteroids, antibiotics, or medication to suppress immune function. Surgery is necessary when there is massive bleeding, chronic and debilitating symptoms. Surgical options include proctocolectomy with ileostomy (the most common surgical treatment) and ileoanal anastomosis.
DID YOU KNOW?
Diet and nutrition are one of the best ways to manage the problem of ulcerative colitis in the long run, specially eating smaller meals and avoiding very heavy and spicy foods.