Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is one of two types of inflammatory bowel disease (see also Crohn’s disease). A chronic condition, ulcerative colitis inflammation primarily affects continuous sections of the large intestine (colon and rectum). Symptoms that occur outside the large intestine may also occur, affecting the eyes, skin, and joints. Ulcerative colitis is not contagious and is not caused by eating or doing anything specific.

What causes ulcerative colitis?

While the exact causes of ulcerative colitis is not known, it is thought to be an overreaction of the immune system. Normally, the cells and proteins that make up the immune system protect from infection. However, in people with chronic ulcerative colitis, the immune system mistakes food, bacteria, and other materials in the intestine for foreign or invading substances. As a result, the body sends white blood cells into the lining of the intestines, producing chronic inflammation and ulcers (open sores). The combination of inflammation and ulcers can cause abdominal discomfort and frequent emptying of the colon.

What are the symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

  • Bowel movements become looser and more urgent
  • Persistent diarrhea accompanied by abdominal pain and blood in the stool
  • Crampy abdominal pain
  • Bloody stool

How is ulcerative colitis diagnosed?

  • Medical and family history
  • Physical exam
  • Lab tests
  • Colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies

Your doctor may perform a series of medical tests to rule out other bowel disorders that may cause symptoms similar to those of ulcerative colitis.

How is ulcerative colitis treated?

While there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, certain medications may reduce symptoms. A procedure to remove the colon may also be used to treat ulcerative colitis.

If you have concerns about ulcerative colitis, request an appointment at San Bernardino Gastroenterology Associates.