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Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a long term condition that causes inflammation of the inner lining of the rectum and colon. Ulcers also develop on the surface of the lining and these can bleed and produce pus.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition which means it is ongoing and lifelong. However, sufferers will often go through long periods of good health, as well as relapses and flare-ups where the symptoms are more active.

woman chatting to doctor

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis

The symptoms of ulcerative colitis can vary from person-to-person and can range from mild to severe.

Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Cramping in the abdomen
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Feeling generally unwell
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Anaemia

When should you see your doctor?

You should see your doctor as soon as possible if you have the symptoms mentioned above for longer than a two week period.

The doctor will generally arrange a blood and/or stool sample to help determine the cause of your symptoms.

Causes of ulcerative colitis

Despite lots of ongoing research, there is no known cause of ulcerative colitis. It’s believed to be caused by these factors:

  • Genetics
  • An abnormal reaction to bacteria in the intestine
  • An unknown trigger which could include viruses, stress, bacteria or something else in the environment

Treatment for ulcerative colitis

Treatment for ulcerative colitis aims to relieve the symptoms for sufferers during a flare-up, treatment can also prolong the remission period.

For most people, taking the following medications can help relieve symptoms:

  • Aminosalicylates (ASAs)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunosuppressants

Mild flare-ups can usually be treated at home, however, severe flare-ups can require treatment in hospital.

If medications aren’t working to relieve your symptoms, surgery to remove your colon could be an option.

You can find out more information about ulcerative colitis here.

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