Ulcerative Colitis is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The exact cause of Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is unknown, but is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. The process that disrupts the normal activity of the immune system is not clearly understood, but the immune system turns against the body rather than protecting it. There is not a cure for UC, but treatment and remission are possible.
UC is found only in the top layer of the colon lining. Symptoms include a sudden, urgent need to have a bowel movement, cramping, anemia, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Many UC patients also have occasional fevers and can suffer from joint pain and rashes. It is important to report even non GI related symptoms, like rashes, to your doctor along with the more obvious GI symptoms.
A diagnosis is made based on a detailed medical history, lab work, and a colonoscopy. Patients with UC have an increased risk of developing colon cancer and should be screened at a different rate than the general public. Flare ups of UC can be quite severe. For all these reasons, your AIDH gastroenterologist will work closely with you to understand your illness and will discuss the appropriate screening schedule. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions and take all medications as prescribed. Any sudden change or worsening of symptoms should be reported immediately.