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What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease which causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the colon and rectum. The inflammation usually begins in the rectum and sigmoid colon and spreads upward to the entire colon. Ulcerative colitis rarely affects the small intestine. It occurs at the rate of approximately five cases per 100,000 people. The disease pattern is one of remission and exacerbation. It can occur at any age but its onset is most common among people between the ages of 15 – 40. Ulcerative colitis affects males and females equally and appears to run in some families which means Ulcerative Colitis can be genetic.

What are the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis are:

  • Frequent loose stools with the passage of blood and mucous
  • The patient may complain of abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of weight
  • Loss of body fluids and nutrients
  • Some patients also have skin lesions
  • Joint pain
  • Inflammation of eyes and
  • Liver disorders

How to diagnose Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis diagnosis is done after carefully taking the history and physical examination of the patients, then the patients are subjected to sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy examination. The rectum and colon are seen through a flexible optical / camera tube which is inserted through the anus. During this examination, a sample of tissue from the lining of the colon is taken to observe under a microscope. This is called a histopathology examination. A barium enema helps determine the nature and the extent of the disease in patients.

Risk of Colon Cancer

There is a strong correlation between Ulcerative Colitis and Colorectal cancer. The risk of colon cancer begins to increase after someone has had Ulcerative Colitis for approximately ten years or whose entire colon is affected. The risk increases by ten per cent for each decade it is suffered. However, if only the rectum and lower colon are involved, the risk of cancer is not high. Someone who has been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis for longer than five to ten years should undergo a complete colonoscopy at least every two years. The key to cancer therapy is early detection and early treatment.

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