Ulcerative Colitis
Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis is part of a group of diseases called “inflammatory bowel diseases” or IBD. Its incidence is rare and affects 5 in 100,000 people. It is more common in women and in whites and usually appears between the second and fourth decade of life.

What Is The Cause Of Ulcerative Colitis?

The cause of IBD is unknown. Western medicine has been unable to establish a cause yet, but predisposing factors have been identified, such as the family inheritance. It is not a contagious disease.

How Is The Bowel Affected By Ulcerative Colitis?

Only the large intestine or colon is affected by Ulcerative Colitis. In most severe cases, the entire colon (pancolitis) is involved. If the lesions are located only in the rectum, the disease is called proctitis. Lesions occur on an ongoing basis in the colon and covering the mucosa and submucosa of this organ. Mucosal inflammation and bleeding ulcers produce a malabsorption syndrome with bloody diarrhea, pus and mucus.

The patient’s nutritional status is affected because some symptoms like water and electrolyte loss, anemia and weight loss are present. Patients can also have other signs such as altered taste and lack of appetite that further compound the nutritional deficit.

Can Other Problems Occur With Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis can cause complications in other organs like the liver where sclerosing cholangitis appears, fatty liver or cholestatic dysfunction. Patients also may suffer from arthritis and eye inflammation and skin disorders.

What Are The Symptoms?

The main symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis are;

  • bloody diarrhea with pus and mucus
  • abdominal pain relieved by defecation

The severity of symptoms can vary greatly and, accordingly, the quality of life of the patient will be affected to a greater or lesser extent. The amount of stool in the most severe cases may reach 30 bowel movements per day. Other symptoms include fever and tenesmus. Ulcerative Colitis is a recurring disease and periods of diarrhea reappear after a period of time free.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis is performed through the patient’s symptoms together with endoscopy. The biopsy will reveal if there are lesions in the intestinal mucosa and what type. Ulcerative Colitis often is confused with other intestinal diseases.

What Treatment Is Available?

Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis is based on the control of symptoms through a proper diet, usually high in calories and protein to replenish the weight loss. Iron supplements are often used to replenish reserves and to correct anemia. Besides anti-inflammatory drugs oral and topical (enemas, suppositories), corticosteroids and immune-suppressants are also used.

The only solution for Ulcerative Colitis via western medicine is the removal of the affected area through the surgery done in case of frequent recurrences or if premalignant histological changes, such as cellular dysplasia. Finally, treatment also includes psychotherapy and stress management.

When Is Surgery Needed?

Indication of colonic surgery for the treatment of Ulcerative Colitis is indicated in the case of frequent symptom remission or in the presence of premalignant lesions or cancer. Treatment with drugs and diet is not always enough to control the symptoms.

What Operation Might I Have?

Surgery is performed as a treatment for Ulcerative Colitis and is called colectomy. Colectomy is the resection of the affected part of the colon lesions or of the entire organ.

To retain both the colon an ileostomy is performed where a “bag” is attached externally to the body on the lower abdomen at the end of the small intestine for defecation.

Another option is surgery in which anal sphincter is maintained to preserve the continence reflex, and it is built up a new “right” using part of the intestine and attached to the anus. This type of surgery is more complicated than the first and is not applicable to all patients. You should always consult your physician, and he will determine which type of surgery is right for you.

Who Should Do My Surgery?

The decision for surgery must be taken in conjunction with the physician and surgeon. It is important to choose a surgeon who performs this type of surgery regularly and is familiar with these techniques.

What Can I Expect After Surgery?

Quality of life after surgery is generally much improved. Patients with Ulcerative Colitis who have had surgery have an almost normal life – if symptoms do not reappear and start affecting the remaining tissues – in which case additional surgeries continue sometimes repeatedly to remove affected tissue.

Long Distance Telephone Appointments

If you are not local to the clinic, Michelle can conduct telephone appointments with you very easily. So if you are anywhere in North America, you can now successfully receive high end, specialized help for your Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. If you are local to the clinic in Hamilton, Toronto or Mississauga Ontario – by all means come in for your appointment. If not, telephone appointments are very popular and convenient.

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