Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory condition affecting the digestive tract and is categorized as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Its effects are long lasting and the disease is considered a chronic condition. Its symptoms develop over time, as opposed to Crohn's disease in which they can develop suddenly and without warning.

In general, the influence of ulcerative colitis is not as severe as Crohn's disease. Ulcerative colitis only affects the innermost lining of the colon and rectum. It is isolated to one continual stretch of the digestive tract and does not burrow into the deeper layers of the affected tissue.

While there is not currently a cure for ulcerative colitis, there are effective therapies available that can reduce and manage symptoms. At the Colorectal Center Los Angeles, we provide a variety of options for Ulcerative Colitis treatment.

Signs and symptoms

While the basic characteristics of ulcerative colitis are the same from case to case, its location can vary. For this reason, doctors classify it based on its location. Such classifications include:

Ulcerative proctitis, in which inflammation is restricted to the rectum. This form has mild symptoms, such as rectal bleeding.

Proctosigmoiditis, in which inflammation occurs in the rectum and lower portion of the colon. This form involves abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and constipation.

Left-sided colitis, in which the inflammation occurs in parts of the colon on the left side of the body, including the rectum, the sigmoid colon and the descending colon. This form can cause abdominal cramping, unintentional weight loss and bloody diarrhea.

Pancolitis, affects parts of the colon beyond just the left side, and frequently the entire colon. This form can cause harsh, bloody diarrhea, dramatic weight loss and fatigue.

Fulminant colitis, a rare form of the disease, affects the entirety of the colon and is life threatening. It can cause excessive diarrhea, severe pain, dehydration and shock. There are serious complications associated with fulminant colitis.

Testing and diagnosis

There are many tests that may be used to properly diagnose ulcerative colitis. Among these are blood tests, stool examination, sigmoidoscopy and a barium enema. Each of these can be used to observe the condition of the colon and determine if ulcerative colitis is present. Your doctor may recommend any number of these based on the exact circumstances.

One primary form of diagnosis is a colonoscopy. The experts at the Colorectal Center Los Angeles have perfected this technique, giving our patients maximum comfort while maximizing the effectiveness of this procedure. During a colonoscopy, a long, thin tub, or colonoscope, is inserted into the rectum. This scope has a camera on the end, allowing the doctor to examine the entire colon for abnormalities. During this procedure, a biopsy, or sample, may be taken for further examination in a lab. In many cases, a colonoscopy is the best way to diagnose colorectal conditions, helping us to deliver the most effective ulcerative colitis treatment Los Angeles has to offer.

Ulcerative Colitis Treatment

Just like Crohn's disease, there is currently no cure for ulcerative colitis. Because of this, the main treatment goal is reduction and management of the symptoms. Milder versions of ulcerative colitis may only require medication, while more severe will require surgery. Ulcerative Colitis treatment options include:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Immune system suppressors
  • Common medications to control specific symptoms, such as anti-diarrheal supplements, laxatives and pain relief
  • Surgery to remove the affected portion of the digestive tract

Cancer screening

It is recommended that those with ulcerative colitis receive more frequent cancer screenings, as this disease can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Regardless of age, it is recommended that patients diagnosed with ulcerative colitis receive a diagnostic colonoscopy within 8 years, with subsequent periodic screenings. It all goes towards ensuring the patient's total well-being.

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