What is Colitis? Also known by its full name Ulcerative Colitis, Colitis is a chronic disease. In other words, it is a long-term disease that causes inflammation of the colon. In fact, Ulcerative Colitis affects over 700,000 people in the United States alone. There are different severity levels that come along with the disease, depending on a number of factors.
Most people live with minor to moderate severity levels, but 1 to 2 percent experience more severe symptoms. If you or your loved one has colitis, it’s important to understand what the disease is, what symptoms it presents, ulcerative colitis treatments available, and what living with Colitis entails. The disease is generally diagnosed through blood tests, stool tests, and X-rays.
What is Colitis?
Colitis is a chronic disease that causes inflammation of the colon. When the colon becomes inflamed, tiny sores or ulcers that produce mucus and pus will form. This can cause abdominal discomfort and frequent emptying of the colon. This can be embarrassing, painful, and can cause individuals with the condition to suffer emotionally and withdraw from their social lives, friends, and families.
What Causes Colitis?
There are a number of factors that cause colitis. Genetics, for instance, is a primary factor. A large number of patients with colitis have a family member with the same disease. The disease can be inherited, and certain ethnic groups are more vulnerable than others. Also, environment and immune system may also add to worsening the condition such as humidity and other gastrointestinal conditions.
What Type of Colitis Do I Have?
There are five classifications of colitis. They include:
- Ulcerative Proctitis: the inflammation of the rectum.
- Proctosigmoiditis: the inflammation of the rectum and sigmoid colon.
- Left-Sided Colitis: the inflammation of the rectum and the left side of the sigmoid and descending colon.
- Pancolitis: the inflammation of the entire colon.
- Fulminant colitis: is a very rare form of colitis in which the whole colon is affected and may be life-threatening.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Colitis?
- Weight Loss
- General Discomfort
How Will I Know If I’m Having a Flare-Up?
During flare-ups, pain and discomfort will be more frequent and worse than normal, depending on your case.
How Will I Know If My Ulcerative Colitis Is in Remission?
When you are in remission, you will experience minor symptoms or no symptoms at all, sometimes for years at a time. Improved diet, lowered stress, and regular use of anti-inflammatories can help control colitis and bring it into remission.
Ulcerative Colitis Treatment
- Anti-inflammatories: Anti-inflammatories are important in ulcerative colitis treatment. They will decrease inflammation of the colon and reduce pain and the frequency of passing stool. Also, anti-inflammatories can help the disease to go into remission.
- Diet changes: Often, a strict diet will do wonders for patients who suffer from colitis. In particular, giving up acidic food and gluten seems to work the best. Some patients who make the switch have reported that their condition has been in remission ever since.
- Reduced stress: As with all illnesses, it’s important to maintain balance and reduce stress.
- Pain management: Painkillers may be prescribed to help manage pain when flare-ups occur.
- Antibiotics: Sometimes during flare-ups, infections may occur and cause infections in and around the colon. This is due to the ulcers caused by the inflammation. However, these infections are often minor and easy to cure.
Living a full life with colitis is completely attainable through changes in lifestyle including diet, physical activity, and medications in use for ulcerative colitis treatment.
Any side effects and infections can be controlled with medication and lifestyle changes. It’s good to keep in mind that colitis is a disease that can be put into remission and is not life-threatening in more than 97% of the cases.
If you have any symptoms of colitis, it’s important to talk to your doctor in order to proceed with testing and diagnosis. Once the disease is diagnosed, it’s much easier to treat. An ulcerative colitis treatment plan cannot cure the condition, but it can help the disease go into remission, reduce or eliminating symptoms for up to years at a time.
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