Ulcerative colitis is an IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). Inflammatory Bowel Disease comprises of a group of illnesses that affects the GI (Gastro-Intestinal) tract. Ulcerative colitis happens when the lining in the colon or bowel (large intestine) and the rectum gets inflamed. This inflammation on the GI tract, produces tiny sores known as ulcers on the whole lining of the colon. These ulcers generally develop in the rectum and then spreads upward. Ulcerative colitis rarely affects the small intestine.
This inflammation on the GI tract, causes the bowel to move its contents rapidly and empty frequently. Due to this disease as the cells on the surface of the bowel lining dies, it causes ulcers. These ulcers also often cause bleeding and discharge mucus and pus. Ulcerative colitis can affect people of all ages. However, it’s more common in people who are between 15 and 30 or between 50 and 70.
The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. In the past, though researchers were of the opinion that stress is one of the major causes of this disease, but of late researchers focuses on the heredity factors and immune system as a possible cause for this disease. It’s believed that you’re at a risk of getting affected by this disease if someone in your close family members also has his condition. This disease can develop in anyone of any race, but it has found that ulcerative colitis is more common in Ashkenazi Jews and Caucasians.
People suffering from this disease have increased risks of developing colon cancer. So most of the time doctor’s perform a colonoscopy on the patients affected with this disease, to check for cancer, if you are diagnosed with this disease. This screening lowers the risk of colon cancer, since it can detect the precancerous cells early and help in prognosis of the disease. Some of the complications found among the patients suffering from ulcerative colitis are sepsis, severe dehydration, thickening of the intestinal wall, swelling of the colon, hepatic disease, intestinal bleeding, inflammations of the joints and eyes, formation of kidney stones, ankylosing spondylitis and development of a hole in the colon.
As ulcerative colitis mimics the symptoms of other bowel ailments like Crohn’s disease, doctors run multiple tests to rule out other conditions while diagnosing this malady. In general stool tests, endoscopy, colonoscopy, biopsy, barium enema and blood tests are done to confirm the presence of this disease.
Blood tests that check for a high level of the C-reactive protein in done for determining the possibility of this disease.