Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease. It is characterized by ulceration and inflammation of the lining of the large intestine. Patients with ulcerative colitis typically experience diarrhea. Stools will often contain blood and mucous. There may be associated abdominal pain and cramping. Fever, night sweats, eye pain, joint pain, skin rash and anemia may also occur.
Ulcerative colitis is most commonly diagnosed by colonoscopy and biopsy of the abdominal lining of the colon. The treatment for ulcerative colitis is dependent upon the severity of symptoms and extent of involvement of the colon. Disease limited to the lower colon or rectum may be treated with medicated suppositories and enemas. Colitis involving the entire colon typically requires more aggressive treatment. Treatment is often initiated with an anti-inflammatory medication called Mesalamine. More severe cases may require corticosteroid therapy such as Prednisone. Immunomodulatory drugs or newer medications called biologics may be required in more severe steroid refractory cases. Patients who fail to respond to medical therapy may require surgical removal of the colon.
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