Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory disease of the large intestine/colon. It is characterized by inflammation and ulceration of the colon’s innermost lining. Ulcerative Colitis can affect various parts of the colon/rectum. When Ulcerative Colitis affects only the lowest part of the colon it is called Ulcerative Proctitis . If the disease affects only the left side of the colon, it is called Limited Colitis or Distal Colitis . If it involves the entire colon, it is termed Pancolitis .
Ulcerative colitis is different than another Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) called Crohn’s Disease. Crohn’s Disease can affect any area of the gastrointestinaltract (GI tract), including the small intestine. Ulcerative Colitis affects only the colon. Ulcerative Colitis inflammation usually involves the entire rectum and extends up the colon in a continuously without breaks. In contrast, areas or sections of the colon and rectum can be skipped by the Crohn’s Disease. Another distinguishing characteristic between Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis is that Ulcerative Colitis affects only the innermost lining of the colon, whereas Crohn’s Disease can affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall. Neither Crohn’s Disease nor Ulcerative Colitis has any relation or similarity to irritable bowel syndrome.
Ulcerative Colitis is principally a disease of the young (under the age of 30). In addition, Ulcerative Colitis can be an inherited illness. Almost one quarter of all persons diagnosed with ulcerative colitis will have a close relative that is also diagnosed with either Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease.
Consider the following symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis:
- progressive loosening of the stool
- bloody stool
- abdominal pain
- severe urgency with bowel movements
- skin lesions
- pains in the joints
- improper physical development/growth
During the diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis, a physician will first perform appropriate test in order to identify whether the patient is suffering from an alternative cause of infectious diarrhea. At present, no medical cure for UlcerativeColitis exists; however, effective medical treatment can reduce the inflammation and other effects of the condition. Consider the following three major classes of medication used to treat Ulcerative Colitis:
- Aminosalicylates (include mesalamine and sulfasalazine)
- Corticosteroids ( include prednisone and methylprednisolone)
- Immunomodulatory medicines ( include azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine, and cyclosporine)
Specific foods do not have a role in causing the disease. However, when the disease is active maintaining proper nutrition is important in the medical management of Ulcerative Colitis.