Ulcerative Colitis is a common type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the rectum and colon. The disease produces ulcers and causes inflammation in the lining of the large intestine. While the disease may only affect the lower part of the colon, it can affect the entire colon. Basically, the more of the colon that is affected by Ulcerative Colitis, the worse the symptoms are for the sufferer.
This disease does not discriminate against age, however, most individuals are diagnosed with UC before age 30.
It is unclear what causes Ulcerative Colitis, but specialists theorize that the immune system has something to do with it. They believe that the immune system overreacts to normal bacteria in the GI tract, which causes the symptoms.
Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis
-Bleeding from the rectum
-Diarrhea (up to 20 times a day)
-Loss of appetite
These symptoms can come and go whenever they want. When symptoms are not present, the individual is said to be in remission. When symptoms re-occur, it is called a flare-up.
How is one diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis?
-Colonoscopy (with a biopsy)
Your doctor may order these tests to also rule out similar diseases, such as Crohn's Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis
As with any disease, this disease affects everyone differently. Individuals who experience mild symptoms may be required to take over-the-counter medication.
Most individual are prescribed medication to manage their symptoms. Medication like Prednisone may be prescribed to help alleviate flare-up pain.
Individuals who are diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis are at a higher risk for colon cancer. Talk to your doctor about cancer screenings. The sooner it is detected, the easier it is to be treated.
It's unfortunate that I have first-hand experience in many of the autoimmune illnesses that I am writing about. On the flip side, it is helpful for others to know that they are not alone in their battle.
In September of 2012, I had my first colonoscopy (I was a few months shy of turning 30). During the colonoscopy, the GI doctor took some biopsies and examined them. He came back and told me that I had Ulcerative Colitis. At the same time, I was "inconclusive" for Crohn's. He theorized that the Ulcerative Colitis was a "precursor" to Crohn's Disease. Last year, his theory was proved right. While this doesn't happen every day, I can understand what both Ulcerative Colitis sufferers and Crohn's sufferers are going through. Both diseases are uniquely painful.
As far as social stigma, people are going to be ignorant. They may try to make light of it. What we deal with is very personal, and for us, it isn't something we can make light of. These are real illnesses that have real complications. We need to bring true awareness of this disease to the world. Perhaps educating the masses may be the first step in finding a cure for this disease.