Ulcerative colitis should be monitored

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine and is one of the two main forms of chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. The other form is called Crohn’s Disease. Normally, the large intestine absorbs water from stool and changes it from a liquid to a solid. In UC, the inflammation causes loss of the lining of the colon, leading to bleeding, production of pus, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

If you suspect that you have ulcerative colitis contact north Atlanta Digestive Care Physicians, Dr. Singh, Dr. Rashbaum, Dr. Nitin Parikh, Dr. Sumana Moole, Dr. Long B. Nguyen, Tammi D’Elena, PA-C; and Vanessa T. Dang, MSN, APRN;  to receive a diagnosis and an individually tailored treatment plan. Keep in mind that people with UC have a higher risk of developing colon cancer.

While the cause of Ulcerative Colitis is unknown. Experts believe that people with UC have abnormalities of the immune system; however, whether these problems are a cause or a result of the disease is also unknown. The immune system in a healthy body protects people from infection by identifying and destroying bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful foreign substances. With UC, the body’s immune system is believed to react abnormally to bacteria in the digestive tract. Ulcerative Colitis is not caused by emotional distress, but the stress of living with UC may contribute to a worsening of symptoms.

Symptoms

Researchers do not know why these problems occur, but they think these complications may be the result of inflammation triggered by the immune system. Some of these symptoms go away with treatment.

Anemia Weight loss Skin lesions
Loss of body fluids & nutrients Loss of appetite Eye irritation
Fatigue Growth failure in children Joint pain
Fever Rectal bleeding Liver disease
Nausea Kidney stones Osteoporosis
 Abdominal discomfort  Diarrhea

Testing for Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative Colitis can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to those of other intestinal disorders such as Crohn’s Disease. A physical exam and medical history are usually the first steps in diagnosing UC, followed by one or more of the following tests and procedures:

  • Blood tests
  • Stool tests
  • Colonoscopy
  • CT scan
  • Upper GI series
  • Lower GI series

Treatment Options

Treatment for UC depends on the severity of the disease and the symptoms. Each person experiences UC differently, so treatment is adjusted for each individual. Some people respond well to medication while others may eventually have a portion of their large intestine or colon removed.

Medication

While no medication cures UC, many can reduce symptoms. The goals of medication therapy are to induce and maintain remission—periods when the symptoms go away for months or even years—and to improve quality of life. Many people with UC require medication therapy indefinitely, unless they have their colon and rectum surgically removed. The type of medication prescribed depends on the severity of the UC.

  • Anti-inflammation medications
  • Cortisone or steroids
  • Immune system suppressors
  • Biological therapies
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Pain relievers

Surgical Procedures

  • Proctocolectomy: Some people who have Crohn’s Disease must have a Proctocolectomy to remove the rectum and part of the colon or the entire colon. A Proctocolectomy is followed by one of the following operations:
  • Ileoanal pouch anastomosis: also called “pouch surgery,” makes it possible for people with UC to have normal bowel movements, because it preserves part of the anus and the outer muscles of the rectum. The ileum—the lower end of the small intestine—is then pulled through the remaining rectum and joined to the anus, creating a pouch. Waste is stored in the pouch and passes through the anus in the usual manner.
  • Ileostomy: An Ileostomy is performed during a Proctocolectomy. The procedure attaches the ileum to an opening made in the abdomen called a stoma. The stoma is about the size of a quarter and is usually located in the lower right part of the abdomen near the beltline. An Ostomy pouch is then attached to the stoma and worn outside the body to collect stool.

Dietary Guidelines

Dietary changes may help reduce UC symptoms. A recommended diet will depend on your symptoms, medications, and reactions to food. In addition, while sensitivity to certain foods or food products does not cause UC, it may trigger symptoms in some people. General dietary tips that may alleviate symptoms include:

  • Eat smaller meals more often
  • Avoid carbonated drinks
  • Eating bland foods
  • Avoid high-fiber foods such as corn and nuts

For people with UC who do not absorb enough nutrients, vitamin and nutritional supplements may be recommended.


Board certified physicians Dr. Ranvir Singh, Dr. Stephen Rashbaum, Dr. Nitin Parikh, Dr. Sumana Moole, Dr. Long B. Nguyen, and Tammi D’Elena, PA-C; and Vanessa T. Dang, MSN, APRN; care for patients in the north Atlanta, GA; Digestive Care Physicians has 4 locations including Alpharetta, GA; Cumming, GA; Johns Creek, GA; and Lawrenceville, GA. The in-house endoscopy suite at the Johns Creek location of Digestive Care Physicians is a certified facility which has achieved the highest level of accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). If you suffer from abdominal pain, contact us at (770) 227-2222 to schedule an appointment.