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How To Know If You Have Ulcerative Colitis


 Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine.

 UC is a condition that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the lining of the rectum and colon.

Symptoms vary, but may include diarrhea, abdominal pain, blood in the stool, and weight loss. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and may include medicines, diet changes, and surgery.

Many people with ulcerative colitis need to take medicines to control their condition.

UC is a chronic disease, which means that it lasts for a long time and can’t be cured but it can be treated to keep it under control.

 If you think you may have ulcerative colitis, there are some key signs and symptoms to look out for.

In this article we will discuss everything you need to know about Ulcerative Colitis and which symptoms to look out for.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor for a diagnosis.

Treatment options include medications, surgery, and lifestyle changes.


What Are the Causes of Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the rectum and colon.

While the cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, abnormal immune response, genetics, microbiome, and environmental factors are all believed to contribute to the disease.

Research suggests that ulcerative colitis could be triggered by an interaction between a virus or bacterial infection in the colon and the body’s immune response.


How Is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed?


Blood Test:  Having a blood test done can show signs of infection or anemia. Anemia is a low level of iron in your blood. This can indicate that you have bleeding in the colon or rectum.

Stool Samples:  A stool sample is needed to diagnose ulcerative colitis. This is a sample of the stool that is taken and tested in a lab. This test is used to look for signs of the disease.

Endoscopic Tests:  One of the tests that can be used to diagnose ulcerative colitis is an endoscopic examination. During this test, a doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end into the rectum. This allows the doctor to see the inside of the colon and look for any signs of inflammation or damage.





What Are the Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?


Symptoms can vary from person to person, but common symptoms include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal cramps, and Urgency to have a bowel movement.

There are many signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis, but some of the most common symptoms are as follows: 

  • Ulcers in the rectum
  • Blood in the stool (hemorrhoids)
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Urgency to have a bowel movement
  • Low appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Joint pain
  • Skin lesions
  • Mouth ulcers

The severity of symptoms can also vary, with some people having only minor symptoms and others having very severe symptoms that require hospitalization.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor for a diagnosis.


How to Manage Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?


There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing ulcerative colitis, as the symptoms can vary from person to person.

However, there are a few general tips that can help to control the symptoms of ulcerative colitis:

  • Pain relievers
  • Antispasmodics
  • Iron Supplements
  • Anti-diarrheal medications 




Should You Be Treated with Medication or Surgery?


The disease is marked by periods of remission and relapse.

Medication and surgery are both potential treatments for ulcerative colitis. Medication can help calm the inflammation. Which treatment is best depends on the individual case.

Treatment options include medications such as steroids and immune suppressing drugs, diet, lifestyle changes, and surgery.

Surgery is often necessary when medication fails to control the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.


Types Of Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis, Doctor’s Approach and The Right Medicines for You?

Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, and corticosteroids can help reduce inflammation and pain. Surgery may also be necessary to remove the section of the intestine affected by the disease. 

Lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications and stress management can also help manage symptoms of ulcerative


Ulcerative Colitis Diet Plan and Meal Suggestions


If you have ulcerative colitis, it’s worth your while to pay attention to what you eat.  Your diet can play a big role in managing symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

Some foods that may aggravate symptoms of ulcerative colitis include spicy foods, dairy products, and caffeine.

It is important to avoid these foods if they cause problems. In addition, it is important to eat plenty of fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods help to keep the intestines healthy and can help to reduce symptoms.

So, what foods and nutrients can help reduce the pain and manage the condition?

Nutrient-rich foods
Nutrient-rich foods can help fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied, which may help reduce the frequency of bathroom visits. Here are some examples:


  • Citrus fruits
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Cherries
  • Pomegranates
  • Honeydew melons
  • Avocados


  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Onions

Food Diary
Be on top of things, stay organised and make a food diary.  Track the good and the bad in terms of what you eat and when you have flare-ups. 

This way you would know exactly which foods to stay clear of and get to really know your gut.

This will take some time and patience, but this way you will exactly be able to know what works for you and what doesn’t.   It will be worth it in the end.

Simple tweaks in your daily meal prep can make it easier to enjoy some foods, for example rather steaming veggies or switching to low-fat dairy.

Watch Out For:

  • Seeds
  • Spicy foods
  • Popcorn
  • Meat
  • Raw fruits and vegetables
  • High fiber foods
  • Dried fruits
  • Dried beans
  • Peas
  • Refined sugar
  • Nuts
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine





How To Exercise While Suffering from Ulcerative Colitis


Exercise is often recommended to people suffering from Ulcerative Colitis as a way to manage the symptoms of the disease.

 However, for many people with Ulcerative Colitis, exercise can be difficult or even impossible.

Exercise can help reduce inflammation in the intestine and improve bowel function. It can also help improve mood and overall well-being.

There are a number of exercises that can be helpful for people with ulcerative colitis, including:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Yoga

 Swimming is a great exercise for people with ulcerative colitis because it is gentle on the gut and doesn’t require any jarring movements.

Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility and strength. It is also a good way to reduce stress and anxiety.

Anyone with ulcerative colitis should consult with a doctor before starting an exercise.

How to Improve Quality of Life with UC


 There are several things that you can do to improve quality of life with UC.

First, make sure that you are taking your medications as prescribed.

Second, make sure that you are eating a healthy diet.

Third, make sure that you are getting enough exercise.

And fourth, make sure that you are getting enough rest.

If you follow these tips, you can improve your quality of life with UC.








For any additional information regarding a ulcerative colitis, it’s best to find a trusted and experienced Gastroenterologist who can answer your questions clearly, recommend appropriate solutions, and perform tests with precision and expertise.


Dr. Deetlefs has earned the reputation of a trusted health expert providing consultative, diagnostic, and therapeutic endoscopic and related services to patients in Cape Town and beyond. 


Dr. Deetlefs can be contacted to confirm the estimated breakdown should you be interested in having the procedure done. 



The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

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© Dr. Eduan Deetlefs, Registered Gastroenterologist, GI Doc Cape Town

Our website information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.