Ulcerative colitis can cause severe rectal and bowel pain, along with diarrhea, bloody stools, and fecal incontinence. If you have symptoms like these, the experienced gastroenterologists at the Centers for Digestive Health can help. With offices in Highland, Merrillville, Gary, Dyer, Crown Point, and DeMotte, Indiana, the team provides the latest treatments for the long-term relief of ulcerative colitis symptoms. To benefit from their expertise, call the Centers for Digestive Health today or book an appointment online.
Ulcerative colitis is one of two primary conditions under the umbrella of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the other being Crohn's disease. Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation in the lining of your large intestine and rectum that leads to the development of ulcers.
Ulcerative colitis is likely to be a result of an immune system malfunction. If you have an autoimmune disorder, the immune cells that should protect you against invading microorganisms instead target healthy cells. With ulcerative colitis, they destroy cells in your intestinal lining.
You can develop ulcerative colitis at any age, but most people get it before they reach 30.
Ulcerative colitis symptoms vary between patients and can become severe, disabling issues. Some of the most common ulcerative colitis symptoms include:
When ulcerative colitis is severe, it can cause fecal incontinence (the inability to hold stools) and tenesmus, an uncontrollable urge to strain even when the bowel is empty.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition and incurable, but many patients enjoy extended periods of remission with mild or no symptoms.
If you have symptoms of ulcerative colitis, the Centers for Digestive Health team might first take a stool sample to look for blood and perform a digital rectal exam. Most cases of rectal bleeding are due to hemorrhoids or anal tears, so it's important to check for these problems.
To definitively diagnose ulcerative colitis, you need to undergo a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. These procedures involve having a flexible tube affixed with a light and camera inserted into your rectum.
With a sigmoidoscopy, the camera travels along your rectum and the lower section of your bowel. A colonoscope goes the entire length of your large intestine. The camera sends back detailed images of the lining of your intestines, enabling your provider to see any inflamed or ulcerated tissues. They can also take a sample for lab analysis.
The Centers for Digestive Health team uses treatments that aim to reduce the inflammation that causes ulcerative colitis. Oral and rectal anti-inflammatory medications called aminosalicylates (5-ASAs) are often very effective in managing ulcerative colitis symptoms.
For more severe cases, steroids like prednisone can help. These drugs reduce inflammation and also suppress the immune system. Other immunosuppressants may be necessary for severe cases. The Centers for Digestive Health team also uses targeted therapies or biologics, which contain living cells, to treat ulcerative colitis.
With the right medication and careful management, you can keep ulcerative colitis symptoms under control and enjoy a full and rewarding life. Find out how by calling the Centers for Digestive Health or booking an appointment online.