What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the lower gastrointestinal tract. Ulcerative colitis, closely related to Crohn’s disease, only affects the innermost lining of the colon, whereas Crohn’s disease can occur in all of the layers that make up the wall of the bowel.


What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?

While the exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, some doctors believe abnormalities of the immune system could play a role. However, doctors do not know whether these abnormalities are a cause or a result of the disease.

What are the Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis causes ulcers to form along the lining of the colon, which subsequently bleed and produce mucus. These ulcers cause symptoms including pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, lack of appetite, fever and fatigue. While ulcerative colitis is not caused by emotional distress or sensitivity to certain foods or food products, these factors may trigger symptoms in some people. The stress of living with ulcerative colitis may also contribute to a worsening of symptoms.

Ulcerative colitis affects men and women equally, and symptoms often start in people between the ages of 15 to 30.

What is the Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis?

While there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, symptoms are usually treated by medication or with surgery. The effectiveness of medication will vary patient-to-patient. Therefore, it’s best to discuss with your doctor the most effective route to take to ease your symptoms. Many times, a change in diet and lifestyle can help control your symptoms. Foods such as dairy and those with higher fiber content should be limited to avoid a flare up. Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day and drinking more water can also help prevent symptoms.

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