Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease that affects the inner lining of the large intestine (the colon) and rectum, causing the tissue to become inflamed and irritated, leading to sores or ulcers. These ulcers tend to be long-lasting and may cause uncomfortable symptoms. It also increases the risk of developing colon cancer.
Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is part of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) group of diseases that includes Crohn’s disease, but Crohn’s can attack anywhere in the digestive system, not just the colon. It is important to note that IBD is not the same as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Left untreated, UC can damage the colon to a degree that the colon must be removed. However, if properly diagnosed, UC has multiple levels of treatment options, and patients receive education about avoiding recurring bouts of UC and how to stay healthy. Patients with UC who receive proper medical care may suffer recurring bouts of symptoms, but they are generally able to have normal life function and life expectancy.
Avoiding surgery and providing timely treatment to calm inflammation, heal ulcers and reduce recurring symptoms is the goal for our gastroenterology specialists.
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?
The cause of ulcerative colitis remains unclear. One theory is that UC is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells in the lining of the colon. This causes the tissues in the lining to swell. If not treated immediately, the inflammation may lead to ulcers.
Are There Risk Factors for Developing UC?
While scientists still can’t pinpoint the cause of UC, they have observed common risk factors for developing it. These include:
- Age. Ulcerative colitis usually develops before age 30.
- Race or ethnicity. Scientists observed that Caucasians and Ashkenazi Jews are at higher risk of developing UC than other ethnicities.
- Family history. People who have a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, with ulcerative colitis are more likely to develop the disease than those who don’t.
Request a Doctor’s Appointment
If you want to know if you have ulcerative colitis, come to our office for a consultation. Since UC is a form of IBD, it is vital to accurately determine whether your symptoms indicate UC and to assess the severity of this condition. Our doctors often run tests for an accurate diagnosis. These may include a blood test, stool test and colonoscopy. Depending on the results, one of our gastroenterologists in either our Sandy or Lehi office will work closely with you to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses ulcerative colitis.
Call us today to request an appointment. We offer same-day urgent care appointments.