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What is Ulcerative Colitis?...

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

By Catherine Hall, Pall Mall Medical,

What is Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis or Colitis is a condition that affects your large bowel and rectum. Usually established between the ages of 15 and 25, even though it can develop later in life. The lining of these areas will become inflamed and ulcers may form, commonly the sufferer will experience a ‘flare up’ which often is in the form of diarrhoea.

 

Ulcerative colitis symptoms

Often Colitis symptoms include: feeling a need to go to the toilet with no actual stool, excessive tiredness, weight loss, loss of appetite, and an increased temperature. Alongside these direct Colitis symptoms your body may present other issues such as mouth ulcers or joint pain, this could occur during a flare up.

 

Diagnosis

Correct diagnosis is key to helping this condition.

  • At first, your GP may ask simple questions such as whether you’ve travelled abroad: this is to rule out the possibility of infection.
  • Following this,  they will request a stool sample: this is to make sure there is no bacterial infection present; to help confirm this a blood test will most likely follow.
  • Then depending on the results, a referral to a gastroenterologist will focus on things that are affecting your digestive system.

A common form of diagnosis is an endoscopy (colonoscopy). This is to examine the lining of the large bowel to attempt to detect any present ulcers. If you were to opt for a private colonoscopy you would be guaranteed the highest standard of discretion. Having a private endoscopy can comfort many people when faced with what is usually regarded as quite an invasive procedure.

If for whatever reason, these diagnoses methods are insufficient, the specialist may need to perform a biopsy, this will involve taking a small tissue sample from the bowel and examining it. Further to this and less invasive than the other two methods, an MRI or CT scan may be able to prove there is inflammation or an ill-effect regarding the large bowel.

 

Treatment for Colitis

Unfortunately, there is no definitive treatment for ulcerative Colitis, nonetheless with the right aid symptoms can be brought under control. Aminosalicylates are available to be taken orally or via suppository or an enema. This form of medicine is meant to keep symptoms away for a period of time during a flare up. Alternatively, steroids such as prednisolone are available in the same formats, however, your doctor will have to monitor the use of such a drug much more closely. Often a suppression of the immune system can also help with Immunosuppressants, such as azathioprine, but can take time to work.

 

Surgery

If the condition is truly severe then surgery may be required. There are three main forms of surgery with regards to Ulcerative Colitis.

Proctocolectomy is a procedure by which the surgeon will remove the entirety of your large bowel, anus, rectum, and close of the opening of your anus permanently. This will be followed by a stoma, a process by which your small bowel is brought to the surface if the abdomen, an ileostomy bag will be fitted to collect waste.

Pouch surgery is another solution. Here your rectum and large bowel will be removed. Following this the surgeon will make a pouch from the end of your small bowel and stitch it to your anus, this allows for bowel movements to pass through the anus.

The third surgical solution is known as Colectomy. Here the large bowel is removed, whilst the end of your small bowel is connected to your rectum. You will still pass bowel movements through your rectum as you haven’t had to have an ileostomy.

 

If you think you may have Colitis, be sure and book an appointment with one of Pall Mall Medicals’s private gastroenterologists for diagnosis and the best possible treatment methods for you.