Book an appointment at BlueNetHOSPITALS Los Cabos easily via Whatsapp and save time.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic inflammation.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic inflammation and ulcers in the inner lining of the colon and rectum. This condition can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms and significantly impact a patient's quality of life. Due to its specific impact on the colon and rectum, ulcerative colitis differs from other forms of IBD, such as Crohn's disease.

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis can vary in severity and may include:

  • Diarrhea: Often accompanied by blood or pus.

  • Abdominal Pain: Usually on the left side.

  • Rectal Bleeding: Visible bleeding during bowel movements.

  • Urgency to Defecate: A strong need to pass stools.

  • Weight Loss: Associated with decreased appetite and nutrient absorption.

  • Fatigue: Due to chronic inflammation and blood loss.

  • Fever: In more severe cases.

Causes of Ulcerative Colitis

The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune system factors. The immune system may mistakenly attack the cells of the colon, causing inflammation and ulcers.

Risk Factors for Ulcerative Colitis

Factors that may increase the risk of developing ulcerative colitis include:

  • Age: Most diagnoses occur before the age of 30.

  • Family History: Having a close relative with the disease increases the risk.

  • Race and Ethnicity: Whites and people of Jewish descent have a higher risk.

  • Environment: Living in urban or industrialized areas may increase risk, possibly due to dietary and lifestyle factors.

Diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis

Diagnosis of ulcerative colitis is based on a combination of symptoms, physical exams, and diagnostic tests. Common tests include:

  • Blood Tests: To detect anemia or infection.

  • Stool Sample: To rule out infections.

  • Colonoscopy: Allows the doctor to view the colon and take biopsies.

  • Sigmoidoscopy: Similar to a colonoscopy but focuses on the sigmoid colon.

  • Imaging Tests: Such as CT scans or MRIs to assess the extent of inflammation.

Treatments for Ulcerative Colitis

Treatment for ulcerative colitis typically includes medications, dietary changes, and, in some cases, surgery. Some medications your Gastroenterologist may recommend include:

  • Anti-inflammatory Drugs: Such as aminosalicylates and corticosteroids.

  • Immunomodulators: To reduce immune system activity.

  • Biologics: Medications that target specific proteins involved in inflammation.

  • Antibiotics: To treat or prevent infections.

When Might Surgery Be Needed for Ulcerative Colitis?

Surgery may be necessary if other treatments do not relieve symptoms or if severe complications arise, such as:

  • Colon Perforation: A medical emergency.

  • Uncontrollable Bleeding: That cannot be managed with medication.

  • Cancer Risk: In cases of high-grade dysplasia.

The most common surgery for ulcerative colitis is a proctocolectomy, which involves removing the colon and rectum. An ileostomy or ileoanal pouch is often performed to allow waste elimination.

Difference Between Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are the two main types of inflammatory bowel disease, but they have key differences:

  • Location: Ulcerative colitis affects only the colon and rectum, while Crohn's disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus.

  • Inflammation: In ulcerative colitis, the inflammation is continuous and limited to the inner layer of the colon. In Crohn's disease, inflammation can be patchy and affect all layers of the intestinal wall.

  • Symptoms: Both can present similar symptoms, but Crohn's disease often includes symptoms outside the gastrointestinal tract, such as joint and skin inflammation.

Colonoscopy for Ulcerative Colitis

Colonoscopy is a fundamental tool for diagnosing and monitoring ulcerative colitis. It allows the Gastroenterologist to visualize the inside of the colon, assess the extent of inflammation, and take biopsies for detailed analysis. Regular colonoscopies are recommended to monitor the disease and detect possible complications, such as dysplasia or colon cancer.

Differences Between Ulcerative Colitis and Other Forms of Colitis

There are various forms of colitis, each with distinct characteristics:

  • Infectious Colitis: Caused by bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections.

  • Ischemic Colitis: Caused by reduced blood flow to the colon.

  • Microscopic Colitis includes collagenous and lymphocytic colitis, which are detectable only through biopsies.

  • Nervous Colitis: Commonly used colloquially to describe gastrointestinal symptoms related to stress and anxiety. Although not an official medical term, it often refers to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a chronic condition affecting the large intestine characterized by symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.

Ulcerative colitis is distinguished by being a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the inner lining of the colon and rectum.

Prevention of Ulcerative Colitis

There is no known way to prevent ulcerative colitis completely, but certain habits can help manage and reduce flare-ups:

  • Balanced Diet: Avoid foods that trigger symptoms, such as dairy products, spicy foods, and fats.

  • Hydration: Drink enough water.

  • Stress Management: Use relaxation techniques.

  • Medications: Follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding medications and supplements.

When to Consult a Specialist for Ulcerative Colitis

You should consult a Gastroenterologist if you experience persistent or severe symptoms of ulcerative colitis, such as:

  • Severe abdominal pain.

  • Significant rectal bleeding.

  • Persistent diarrhea is unresponsive to treatments.

  • Unexplained weight loss.

Timely diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent serious complications.

Consult the Specialists at BlueNetHospitals

At BlueNetHospitals, the Gastroenterology and Advanced General Surgery team can provide the treatment and solutions you need. We understand that living with ulcerative colitis can be challenging, and we are here to offer comprehensive care.

Don't wait any longer—schedule your appointment with our Gastroenterology specialists. At BlueNetHospitals, your health and well-being are our priority. Trust us to take care of your digestive health.


BlueNet Hospitals Blue Net Hospitals