Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease and a more specific type of colitis, which is a disease of the colon. It is distinguishable by the symptom of repetitive diarrhea with bloody stools. Unfortunately, it is often misdiagnosed or confused with the condition of irritable bowel syndrome. This condition has many similarities to other forms of inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease. The issue with ulcerative colitis is that the symptoms and onset is not always consistent. As a result, individuals may have attacks of symptoms unexpectedly and then experience periods where symptoms are not even present.
The symptoms that are associated with ulcerative colitis tend to vary based on the overall severity of the condition. In a mild case of the condition, someone may encounter less than four stools daily, which may or may not have blood present. There will be no systemic signs of toxicity, but there may be some cramping or abdominal pain. Although people may believe that they are constipated, they may actually be experiencing tenesmus, which is defined as the sensation of needing to empty the bowels only to experience pain, cramping, and no fecal output. Someone with a moderate case of ulcerative colitis may experience more than four stools per day and experience signs of toxicity. There will be abdominal pain and fever present, usually followed by some signs of anemia. In a severe case, there may be more than six bloody stools on a daily basis and there will be toxicity with fever, anemia, and tachycardia.
There are several ways of management that people can use to deal with the condition of ulcerative colitis. Most commonly, there are many types of medication which are used to help people manage their symptoms. Some doctors recommend the use of iron supplementation because most individuals who have ulcerative colitis also deal with severe anemia due to the amount of blood loss that is found in the repetitive appearance of bloody stools. Unlike other inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis can possibly be cured by having a surgical procedure. This procedure is known as the colectomy, which is the surgical removal of the large intestine. This type of treatment depends greatly on the severity of the condition. In less severe cases, a doctor may not believe that the symptoms merit the need for surgery and may monitor the patient to determine whether or not it will worsen over a period of time. Unfortunately, ulcerative colitis is a condition that is known to affect many other parts of the body. If it worsens, the doctor may determine that it is necessary to remove the entire colon.