It is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis is a form of colitis, a disease of the colon (large intestine) that includes characteristic ulcers or open sores. Ulcerative colitis is similar to Crohn's disease, another form of IBD. Ulcerative colitis is an intermittent disease, with periods of exacerbated symptoms, and periods that are relatively symptom free. Ulcerative colitis is treated as an autoimmune disease.
These can vary depending on how much of the colon is affected and the level of inflammation. Common symptoms include
A constant desire to empty the bowels (known as tenesmus)
The exact cause of the disease is unknown. But it is associated with autoimmune disorder which is a combination of genetic and environmental factors:
Genetic factors are associated with developing ulcerative colitis, although exactly how they do this is still uncertain.
To diagnose ulcerative colitis various tests are performed:
Sigmoidoscopy: The diagnosis will need to be confirmed by examining the level and extent of the inflammation of the bowel. This is initially done by using a sigmoidoscope, which is a flexible tube containing a camera that is inserted into the rectum
Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy uses a longer and more flexible tube called the colonscope, which allows entire colon to be examined
Aminosalicylates: Aminosalicylates are the first treatment option for mild to moderate ulcerative colitis.
Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids (steroid medication) may be used if ulcerative colitis is more severe or not responding to aminosalicylates.
Primary sclerosing cholangitis: Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a common complication of ulcerative colitis.
Bowel cancer: It is also the complication of ulcerative colitis.