Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic inflammatory condition of the colon or the large intestine, which we encounter more frequently in our practice these days.
What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative Colitis is a disease which is multifactorial in origin. There is no single reason why somebody develops ulcerative colitis. It is an inflammatory condition of the colon because of certain genetic makeup of the patient and because of certain other environmental factors the colon continues to remain inflamed. This can cause ulcers and bleeding.
What are the Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?
Patients with ulcerative colitis generally face repeated attacks of diarrhoea. Initially they think this is because of some infection and take some antibiotics. But this diarrhoea won’t subside and the patient keeps getting repeated bouts of diarrhoea sometimes going past 15 to 20 motions per day. Many times, this diarrhoea may not have motion and it may only have mucus and blood in it.
This diarrhoea can be very severe that the patient may lose sleep because he has to go to the toilet for five to 10 times in the night. Because of excessive and continuous blood loss in the motion, the patient can get anaemic. In very extreme cases ulcerative colitis this also can lead to the development of cancer in the large intestine.
How do we Diagnose Ulcerative Colitis?
One of the simplest ways to diagnose ulcerative colitis is by a colonoscopy where an endoscope is passed through the anus into the colon and multiple biopsies are taken from the colon and a study of these bits of colonic mucosa usually confirms the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis.
How is Ulcerative Colitis Treated?
A large number of patients with ulcerative colitis respond very well to medical treatment. The medicines are either given in the form of tablets or in some cases they are given in the form of enemas, a liquid medicine given through the anus.
Patients who do not respond to these medicines or patients who become dependent on these medicines meaning when they take the medicine they are all great but when they stop the medicine the disease comes back or patients who have developed cancer because of ulcerative colitis. These are the groups of patients who may need a surgical treatment.