This debilitating disease affects millions of Americans, causing severe symptoms that can derail your life. Ulcerative colitis (UC) also increases your risk of developing colon cancer.
Treatment approaches vary depending on the nature and extent of symptoms. Gastroenterologists treat the symptoms of this condition and work to control recurrence, but there is no “cure” for UC. Preventing symptoms and “flares” are the goal for daily quality of life and to avoid, or delay, surgical intervention.
Causes & Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis
Although medical science has yet to determine the actual cause of ulcerative colitis, we do know that it results from a faulty immune system response, wherein the immune system attacks healthy cells in the colon.
If a close family member suffers from this condition, you face an increased risk of developing UC. It typically presents prior to age 30 and occurs more frequently in patients with European or Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the degree of inflammation present. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Abdominal discomfort or pain
- Recurring diarrhea
- Blood or pus in the stool
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
- Frequency and urgency of bowel movements
In more severe cases, patients can develop anemia, cardiac complications and may require blood transfusions.
Ulcerative Colitis Treatment Options
When controlled, patients suffering from UC can live normal, healthy lives, free of disruptive symptoms. Treatment options focus on remission and the prevention of recurrence to protect normalcy and best health.
Prescription drugs are often used effectively for getting UC under control. Your gastroenterologist may prescribe sulfa drugs, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, biologics, or a combination of medications to achieve remission.
The last option for some patients is partial or complete surgical removal of the colon. This, of course, is a possibility that gastroenterologists fight to avoid or delay for as long as possible.
Getting Help for Your Ulcerative Colitis
No two patients respond in exactly the same way to UC treatment. The key to getting this condition under control, and resuming a normal, healthy life, is working closely with a GI physician to get a personalized treatment plan in place.
In Sandy and Lehi, Utah, the gastroenterologists of Granite Peaks Gastroenterology specialize in the treatment of UC, Crohn’s disease and other digestive health diseases. An accurate diagnosis of your condition is the first step toward. We then work to develop a treatment plan designed just for you.