All You Need to Know About Ulcerative Colitis and Proctitis
Approximately 60 to 70 million people are affected by digestive diseases every year in the United States. Of these, ulcerative colitis disease is present in 619, 000 people! A disease of the rectum and colon, ulcerative colitis is characterised by formation of ulcers and sores at the beginning of the rectum and in the colon. This is usually preceded by proctitis characterised by an inflamed rectum and a frequent urge to defecate. Proctitis gradually develops into colitis. An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), colitis unlike Crohn's disease affects only the colon.
Colitis releases an abnormal response in the body's immune system. The immune system in patients suffering from colitis or IBD mistake food, bacteria and other materials present in the body that make its way to the intestine to be foreign substances. The white blood cells that are sent to protect the intestines then inflame the lining of the intestines leading to colitis.
Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis.
No one factor has been attributed to causing colitis in people. Studies show that heredity, genes, the immune system and even antigens present in the environment may cause the disease with no one factor being singled out. Symptoms vary from being mild to extreme depending on the person. There may also be a lull in symptoms followed by an onslaught of the disease making it very unpredictable. Symptoms that people who suffer from colitis could experience are:
Loosening Stool: This is one of the earliest symptoms of colitis. A loosening stool that is bloody, accompanied by cramps in the abdomen and urgency to defecate afflicts anyone who suffers from the disease.
Diarrhea: Diarrhea is another symptom of colitis. This may begin slowly through the course of the disease or even become a sudden occurrence.
Appetite: Loss of appetite and consequent loss of weight are other symptoms of the disease. Fatigue, bleeding and anemia may also be caused as a result of this loss of appetite
Skin, Joints and Liver: Some people may suffer from liver disorders, lesions on the skin and inflammation of the eye as symptoms of colitis.
Diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is diagnosed by first conducting a physical and medical check in which blood and stool samples are tested. A large white blood cell count in the stool or blood samples point to a possible affliction of colitis. Following this colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy is conducted to confirm presence or absence of the disease. In some cases ct scans and barium enema X rays are also used to diagnose the disease.
Treatment of Colitis
Treatment of the disease can either be done through administration of drugs or surgery depending on severity of the disease. Most drugs that are used in the treatment of colitis help control the inflammation caused. They are usually administered orally, through and enema or suppository. While some of these medications are fast acting, others are slower and can take up to six months for its effects to be felt.
Surgery is an option only for those who have a severe case of colitis than cannot be treated by drugs. The risk of developing further complications is always present during surgery. Other than that, it is important to learn to live with the surgical procedure that is performed. Surgery can be done in two ways:
Ileostomy: The surgeon attaches the ileum to a small opening in the abdomen called a stoma. Patients pass waste that is transferred through the ileum to the stoma.
Ileoanal anastomosis: This allows normal bowel movements as a part of the anus is preserved. Surgery is done to remove the inner parts of the colon and rectum. The ileum is then connected to the rectum creating a pouch to excrete.