GI Problems FAQs

Ulcerative Colitis


What is Ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis affects the colon and the rectum, causing inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine.

What causes Ulcerative colitis?
The exact cause is unknown.  Some think ulcerative colitis might be caused by the immune system overreacting to normal bacteria in the digestive tract.

What are the symptoms?

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain

How is ulcerative colitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will rule out other problems that can cause similar symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease through these tests:

  • Colonoscopy- an image of the lining of the colon examined for any abnormalities.
  • Blood test-look for infection or inflammation
  • Stool sample-looking for blood, infection and white blood cells

How is ulcerative colitis treated?
Typically, medicines are used for treatment unless symptoms are severe.  Medicines are used to reduce or stop symptoms and prevent flare-ups.  Steroids can also be used temporarily to help reduce or stop symptoms.
You may need surgery to remove part or all of your colon if severe symptoms persist and medicines do not work.  While colectomy is usually not necessary, total removal of all colon tissue is curative of ulcerative colitis and will prevent colon cancer, which occurs at significantly higher frequency in individuals with chronic ulcerative colitis.

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