What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative Colitis, or bleeding colitis, is a disease that affects approximately 146,000 people in the UK. Ulcerative Colitis is a condition that causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the rectum and colon. This means that ulcers appear on the surface of the inner lining, and this causes bleeding. Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic condition, as there is currently no medical cure for the disease. Despite of this, people who are affected by the disease may experience long periods of few or no symptoms (remission). It is very common for Ulcerative Colitis that it occurs in periods of remission and flare-ups. However, no two cases are the same, and this means that the course of the disease is difficult to predict.
What are the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?
- Bloody stools
- Frequent urge to have bowel movement
- Cramping pain in the abdomen
What are the causes of Ulcerative Colitis?
Over the years, a lot of work has been put into uncovering the cause of the disease. The concrete cause has yet to be uncovered, although medical scientists have discovered that Ulcerative Colitis tends to develop more frequently in ex-smokers compared to non-smokers. Even though the main cause of the disease remains unknown, we know that that some of the substances, which develop as a result of the inflammatory condition, come to have a self-perpetuating effect on the inflammation. This in turn leads to “a vicious circle” during the active periods of the disease. Furthermore, the disease is associated with different environmental factors and different genes, which means that a person can have a predisposition to Ulcerative Colitis.
What are the treatments for Ulcerative Colitis?
In most cases, it is possible to treat Ulcerative Colitis with medication, but it is not possible to cure the disease entirely this way. Two main types of medication are used in the treatment of Ulcerative Colitis. The first type, Sulfasalazine, is used in the treatment of both active Ulcerative Colitis as well as in the maintenance treatment to minimize the risk of flare-ups. In the event of more severe cases of the disease, the treatment often includes the use of adrenocortical hormones. However, this form of treatment must be used on a limited scale only, given the numerous side-effects.