Colitis is characterized by swelling and inflammation of the large intestine (bowel). There are various types of colitis including :
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Infectious colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Radiation colitis
- Ischemic colitis
Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by chronic inflammation of the large bowel. It is one of the two types of Inflammatory bowel disease, the other being Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic illness that runs a long course over years and decades with waxing and waning of symptoms. It affects males and females in equal proportion.
Causes of ulcerative colitis
The cause of uncreative colitis remains unknown. The likely causative mechanism involves the immune system in the intestines, which is abnormally activated. In normal circumstances, the cells of the immune system react to a foreign invader in the form of a bacteria, fungi, virus etc. However, in ulcerative colitis patients, the immune system is activated abnormally and chronically without any known harmful foreign substance. This leads to damage to healthy tissues of the colon leading to inflammation and ulceration.
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis
Some of the common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are bleeding from the rectum, pain in abdomen and loose stools. However, the symptoms depend upon the extent and severity of the disease. Other symptoms of ulcerative colitis are :
- Pain in rectum
- Pain in rectum
- Unintentional weight loss
- Blood in stools
- Generalized fatigue and tiredness
- Night sweats
- In severe cases the patient may develop dehydration and shock.
The diagnosis of ulcerative colitis is made through an assessment of the symptoms, family history, and a series of examinations. The various tests include :
- Colonoscopy and biopsy
- Barium enema
- Blood tests
- Stool examination
The treatment for ulcerative colitis depends on the severity of the condition. Although mild cases may only require a few lifestyle changes, more severe cases often require surgery and hospitalization. Treatment options include :
- Dietary modifications such as avoiding high fiber diet, avoiding high fat diet and drinking large amounts of water.
- Anti inflammatory Drugs
- Corticosteroids such as prednisone or methylprednisolone are indicated during an acute flare up.
- Surgical procedures which may involve removal of the entire colon (proctocolectomy) is recommended in severe