Ulcerative colitis Ulcerative colitis is known for its sporadic symptoms that may not show up for months, even years. Milder bouts of the disease may cause symptoms to appear in a few days. The most prominent ones comprise diarrhoea (sometimes with blood, pus and mucus), a pressing need to go to the toilet, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue and poor appetite.

When the condition of ulcerative colitis is more serious, symptoms emerge unexpectedly and may include severe and frequent diarrhoea, passing of blood and mucus, fever, abdominal pain and swelling, as well as weight loss. Unfortunately, the condition may lead to a potentially dangerous complication: toxic megacolon (an inflammation and extreme distention of the large intestine) that may subsequently cause a bowel perforation.

Subjects in whom the greater part of or the entire colon has been affected by ulcerative colitis for some years are at a higher risk of bowel cancer. Ulcerative colitis is often accompanied with inflammatory arthritis, eye disorders (episcleritis/uveitis) and erythema nodosum.

Causes of Ulcerative colitis

The single most important factor accounting for ulcerative colitis has not been clarified yet. Nevertheless, specialists confirm that bouts of gastroenteritis or certain medication, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can indeed invite the condition. Approximately 1 in every 1,000 people falls victim to the condition, which makes it more widespread than Crohn's disease, another inflammatory bowel disease. It is Caucasians, especially those of Jewish descent, that are most frequently affected.

Although symptoms appear initially between the ages of 15 and 35, they can show up much later, too. The disease may be passed on in generations and is more typical of non-smokers and ex-smokers.

Treatment of Ulcerative colitis

Basic treating options include alterations in the diet and proper medication (steroids and aminosalicylate anti-inflammatory drugs like mesalazine). It is the drugs that will save one from diarrhoea and will reduce inflammation. Potential future attacks are fought with the help of immune suppressants. NICE has endorsed the so-called leukapheresis, a blood treatment that removes some of the white cells believed to be responsible for the inflammation.

What is more, routine inspections of the bowel (colonoscopy) can be performed once in every two to three years; this is useful in detecting bowel cancer. Probiotics may be prescribed as a preventive measure. If the large intestine is severely impaired, perforated or if cancer has spread, doctors will schedule a surgery. Ulcerative colitis may result in removal of the colon in the long run as it actually happens to a quarter of all affected.