In this article, you’ll learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of ulcerative colitis, and learn about the ulcerative colitis diet.
What is ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a health condition given inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum . People with ulcerative colitis have small ulcers and small abscesses in their large intestine and rectum that periodically flare up, causing bloody stools and diarrhea. Although this disease sometimes seems to heal on its own, it tends to reappear later on.
Ulcerative colitis often starts in your rectum and can then spread to other parts of the large intestine. If the inflammation is limited to the rectum, the disease may also be called ulcerative proctitis . Unlike Crohn’s disease, another inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis does not affect the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine. When grouped together, ulcerative colitis and crohn’s disease are also called inflammatory bowel disease because they cause inflammation in the gut .
What causes ulcerative colitis?
The true cause of ulcerative colitis is largely unknown. However, scientists assume that various factors are involved in the development of this disease. For example, some inherited (genetic) changes seem to favor the disease. If your close family members have ulcerative colitis, there is always the possibility that you will develop it too.
Apart from hereditary proximity, other factors that can trigger ulcerative colitis are various vascular disorders and nervous diseases. These and similar diseases can slow down our immune system and increase the risk of developing an inflammatory disease.
Although ulcerative colitis is thought to be a disease caused by mental stress, this has not been confirmed. Psychological diseases such as anxiety disorder are not the cause of inflammatory bowel disease, but nevertheless psychological disorders can psychologically affect the course and severity of the disease. At the same time, the disease itself and related complaints can have a significant negative impact on psychological well-being and put a great deal of pressure on the patient.
What are the symptoms of ulcerative colitis?
Pain in the lower left side of the abdomen , bloody stools, snot-like diarrhea and crampy abdominal pain are among the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Fever, physical weakness and the frequent urge to defecate are other possible symptoms. Skin changes, swelling of the joints and eye infections may alsooccur. The disease is predominantly in episodes, that is, after the asymptomatic phases, the disease reappears suddenly, more or less severely. This severe relapse may manifest as increased heart rate and rapid weight loss.
In about five percent of those with ulcerative colitis, symptoms occur regularly and consistently. Sudden and severe symptoms that can cause shock are much less common.
How is ulcerative colitis diagnosed?
For ulcerative colitis, your doctor will first want to know the type, intensity and course of complaints, recent travels, food allergy, contact with patients with infectious diarrheal disease, presence of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases in the family, and your accompanying or previous diseases. He or she will then perform a comprehensive physical examination . He or she will also perform a rectal exam if an inflammatory bowel disease is suspected. Your doctor will also examine symptoms in the skin, eyes, and joints.
It may also be necessary to examine your blood and stool samples in the laboratory . In blood analysis, values that indicate inflammation, anemia and a lack of vitamins and minerals in the body are especially important. Also, your stool may need to be checked for bacteria and blood.
Then, it can be examined in detail with ultrasound of the intestine and the entire abdominal cavity and colonoscopy . Regular colonoscopy is also important if you have ulcerative colitis; because in such a case, your risk of bowel cancer also increases. Additionally, tissue samples of the intestine may be necessary to be examined. In some cases, magnetic resonance imaging of the entire bowel can also help your doctor diagnose it.
How is ulcerative colitis treated?
Treatment of ulcerative colitis is based on the following four types:
- nutritional therapy
- Surgical treatment
1. Nutritional therapy
First of all, you should know this: There is no clear diet called the ulcerative colitis diet , because each patient’s triggers may be different. The right thing to do is to avoid foods that trigger your symptoms. You also do not need to seek an ulcerative colitis diet , as long as you avoid foods that trigger your symptoms . At a relapse stage, it is also helpful to stay away from irritants such as hot spices. It is also important to take enough vitamins during this time. In some cases, you may be fed through a gastric tube or infusion. If you have additional deficiencies, such as vitamin or iron deficiency, you may also receive these substances through a probe or infusion.
2. Drug therapy
The aim of treatment in the acute attack of ulcerative colitis is, on the one hand, to suppress the inflammation, on the other hand, permanent damage and further spread of the disease with possible complications should be avoided. Depending on the severity and location of the inflammation, various anti-inflammatory drugs are also used. Immunosuppressants may be prescribed for acute episodes of ulcerative colitis or for patients who are no longer responding to other treatments because these substances suppress what triggers your symptoms to occur. Medications known as 5-aminosalicylates may also be necessary. If the above drugs cannot be used for some special reason, other drugs can be used as an alternative.
Severe attacks may require hospitalization.
Anti-inflammatory drugs or even immunosuppressants are also used when the disease is stagnant to prevent further relapses. Patients who cannot tolerate 5-aminosalicylates can also be treated with a non-pathogenic strain of Escherichia coli . If you have abdominal pain, your doctor may also prescribe pain medications.
Your risk of infection increases if you take immunosuppressive therapy. You are particularly at risk if you are elderly and malnourished. To prevent infections, various other vaccines are recommended in addition to the standard vaccines (for example, against influenza, pneumococcal, chickenpox, hepatitis B, papillomaviruses).
It should be kept in mind that some foods may trigger the infection while you are being treated. Therefore, patients on immunosuppressive therapy should avoid raw milk, raw milk and cheese, raw eggs, raw fish and seafood, and consider the potential risk of infection when traveling abroad.
3. Surgical treatment
If your disease does not improve or your disease progresses despite the treatment you receive, surgery may be necessary. Complications caused by the disease and inadequacy of drug therapy may also necessitate surgery. If you have bleeding or have a hole in your intestine, you will still need to have surgery. Surgical treatment for ulcerative colitis usually means complete removal of the colon; because with partial removal of his arm, the risk of the disease often recurring is very high, and therefore the surgeon usually removes the entire colon. Because the disease has not spread to the small intestine, this part of the intestine is left.
4. Psychotherapy treatment
Additional psychotherapeutic or psychosomatic therapy may also be beneficial for those affected by ulcerative colitis. Psychotherapy and relaxation exercises can have a positive effect on coping with illness, mental health, and pain conditions.
What can you do yourself?
Knowing and recognizing the disease is very important. Patients who do not know about their disease have a lower quality of life. When these people are affected by the illness, they feel more stressed, more depressed and need more frequent treatment.
Can ulcerative colitis be prevented?
It is also difficult to prevent recurrence of the disease, as the cause of ulcerative colitis is not yet clear. However, as a precautionary measure, the following would be helpful:
- Observation: Be aware of your disease, you should not neglect to see your doctor when the disease recurs.
- Eating well : Good nutrition will protect you from various intestinal diseases. You can get help from a nutritionist in this regard.
- Regular checkups: Regular checking of blood values and performing necessary examinations helps doctors identify an exacerbation or any complications as soon as possible.
- Relaxation: There are a number of relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, to reduce stress. In addition, getting enough exercise and getting enough sleep is also beneficial.
- Psychotherapy: If you are not feeling well because of your illness, you may want to consider psychotherapy to prevent it.