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What is Ulcerative Colitis

 

Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic condition of the large intestine which over time irritate and damage the digestive tract and can lead to rectal bleeding or bloody stool.

This can usually be accompanied with diarrhea and cramps. There is not only pain associated with Ulcerative Colitis but also irritation of inflamed area, low-grade fever, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is defined as inflammation of the large intestine.

It can occur in any part of the colon but tends to affect the rectum and sigmoid colon to a greater extent than it does the rest of the colon, which is where IBD symptoms are typically worse.

The only reason UC symptoms are usually localised to one area of the gastrointestinal tract is because unlike Crohn’s disease patients, whose immune system can attack anywhere on their digestive tract, UC sufferers will generally mount an immune response only in their large intestine.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have IBD in your small intestine – what it means is that your immune system attacks your small intestine at a slower rate or without a full-on inflammatory response.

This article will cover a large area in explaining what Ulcerative Colitis typically is, the symptoms thereof and how to avoid triggers and flare-ups.

 

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

 

The majority with ulcerative colitis has mild to moderate symptoms.

The direction of ulcerative colitis may additionally vary, with some humans having long periods of remission.

Symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal Pain
  • Abdominal pain or abdominal cramping
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Defecate urgency
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody stool

ulcerative_colitis_symptoms

 

Causes of Ulcerative Colitis

 

The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, but it is believed to be the result of a combination of environmental, immunologic, and genetic factors.

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis may include abdominal pain, cramping, urgency, diarrhea, and blood in the stool.

Treatment for ulcerative colitis may include medications, diet, lifestyle changes, and surgery.

 

Diagnosis

 

Gastroenterologists may additionally use a selection of tests on the way to apprehend what’s occurring with a patient who’s suspected of getting ulcerative colitis, but it is normally a colonoscopy with biopsies that is used to make the prognosis.

Treatments for Ulcerative Colitis

 

Ulcerative colitis is, unfortunately, incurable.

When you have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, it’s crucial to see your doctor to discover the first-class manner to treat it.

With the proper care, you are able to control your circumstance and lead a complete and productive life.

Some of the most common treatments for ulcerative colitis include:

  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Pain relievers
  • Iron supplements
  • Antispasmodics
  • Surgery

 ulcerative_colitis_guide

 

            Ulcerative Colitis Diet Guide            

 

Eating a diet high in fiber can help to alleviate some of the problems associated with Ulcerative Colitis but there are other things that can be done to lessen the pain and discomfort too.

What are the best foods to eat when you have Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease?

The key word here is animal protein. Animal proteins in the form of fish, seafood and poultry are your best allies.

The reason for this is because they are easy on your system and rapidly absorbed by the digestive tract without causing inflammation in your bowels the way that red meat can (even if its grass fed it can still cause issues down the road).

Focus on low GI carbs such as sweet potatoes, yams, or regular potatoes.

However, avoid white bread or sugary snacks like sweets.

You should also avoid fruit juices while on this diet too since they quickly spike your blood sugar levels which will only aggravate a flare up of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease and increase inflammation in your body.

 

Natural Ways to Reduce UC

 

By utilising lifestyle choices, it is possible to help prevent the onset of ulcerative colitis and reduce any symptoms that are already present.

These changes in one’s lifestyle need to be adopted for the long-term in order to achieve maximum results.

Remember, when looking at various supplements and herbal remedies, you need to have a solid understanding of what your condition is, in order to prevent any danger or confusion if you wish not only to reduce UC ulcerative colitis but also prevent flare-ups.

While there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, you will find that there are many different things you can do to reduce your chances of getting flare ups and make yourself feel far better for longer periods at a time.

For starters, encourage yourself to eat healthier by reducing the amount of fatty, processed foods in your diet and try out a few different recipes using some interesting spices and herbs.

You should also try eating more fruit and vegetables every day, particularly citrus varieties or those that contain lots of water like tomatoes or cucumbers.

You will be adding valuable fiber to your diet, which helps food pass through the intestine more easily.

ulcerative_colitis_healthy_diet

 

Managing Flare-ups

 

Flare-ups can be incredibly painful, so it’s important to manage them effectively to ensure that you can maintain a healthy quality of life.

Although flare-ups can happen for seemingly no reason, there are certain things you can do to reduce their frequency and severity.

  • Reduce stress by, for example meditating, doing yoga, or eating more healthily and drinking more water.
  • Cut your alcohol consumption if you’re not doing so already
  • Try supplementing with fish oils or evening primrose oil – they both may help reduce flare-ups
  • Try keeping a food journal for everyday use. This way you can keep track of what you eat and the reaction your body gives when eating certain foods.
  • Limit your fiber intake
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day
  • Talk to a dietician
  • Relaxation exercise

You should usually see your GP again when you have a flare up because they need to assess whether you need conjunctional treatment (antibiotics) or steroids.

 

Risk Factors

 

Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory colitis (IBD) and is a long-term condition characterized by severe inflammation that affects the large intestine and the lining of the rectum.

Here are 9 risk factors for ulcerative colitis:

  • Genetics 
  • Autoimmune reaction 
  • Smoking 
  • Anti-Inflammatory drugs 
  • Antibiotics

ulcerative_colitis_infographic

 

When To See a Doctor

Although these remedies and guidelines might alleviate the pain, it is recommended to get a professional diagnosis from your doctor or gastroenterologist in order to discuss the way forward.

Dr Eduan prides himself on his ability to help his patients to the best of his ability by embracing good listening skills, effective communication, compassion and knowledge and skill honed during years of private gastroenterology practice.

If you would like to book an appointment with a gastrointestinal (GI) specialist or would simply like more information on a particular GI topic, don’t hesitate to use our online booking form or call Dr. Deetlefs at 021 551 867.

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

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.