Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is a chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) that affects the large intestine (rectum and colon). UC affects the colon and rectum causing it to become inflamed and may form ulcers. The inflamed tissue is injured causing redness, swelling and pain. UC is limited to the colon and rectum, it can occur in part of rectum and colon or the entire colon. It appears in a continuous pattern and the inflammation occurs in innermost lining of the intestine. Stats show that about 30% of the people in remission will experience a relapse in the next year.
UC also affects other areas of the body and is not just limited to the intestine; it affects the eyes, skin and joints.
Symptoms of UC can range from mild to severe. They may vary over time and from person to person, depending on what part of the large intestine is inflamed and the severity of the inflammation. Due to symptoms being different for people, the best way to assess what a person would be consider a flare-up would be relative to what is “normal” for that person.
Symptoms can include:
- Abdominal pain/discomfort
- Blood or pus in stool
- Weight loss
- Frequent, recurring diarrhea
- Reduced appetite
- Tenesmus: A sudden and constant feeling that you have to move your bowels
Mild symptoms could be: Up to 4 loose stools per day, stools may be bloody and mild abdominal pain. Moderate symptoms could be: 4-6 loose stools per day, stools may be bloody, moderate abdominal pain and anemia. Severe symptoms could be: more than 6 bloody loose stools per day and fever, anemia, and rapid heart rate. Very Severe Symptom coming on suddenly with great severity (Fulminant) could be: more than 10 loose stools per day, constant blood in stools, abdominal tenderness/distention, blood transfusion may be a requirement, potentially fatal complications.
There are four different types of UC and demanding on which type you have could determine what type of symptoms you have.
Ulcerative Proctitis – Affects the rectum. Symptoms include rectal bleeding/pain and a feeling of urgency.
Proctosigmoiditis – Affects the rectum and sigmoid colon (lower segment of the colon right about the rectum). Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, pain in lower left side of abdomen and tenesmus.
Left-Sided Colitis – Affects the rectum and extends as far as a bend in the colon near the spleen. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, pain in the left side of abdomen, loss of appetite and weight loss.
Pan-Ulcerative Colitis – Affects the entire colon. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, loss of appetite and weight loss.
UC is progressive disease and can be unpredictable. The extent or severity of the disease increasing and over time the symptoms may change in severity or altogether. A person can go through periods of remission or symptoms can return suddenly and without warning. These painful symptoms of UC can lead to complications: Profuse bleeding, Rupture of the bowel, Severe symptoms that do not respond to medication. Along with an increased risk of colon cancer, vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
This is just the type of the iceberg for someone with UC and or Crohn’s. For More information on the Ulcerative Colitis and IBD visit https://www.crohnsandcolitis.com.