Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease that involves inflammation and sores in the lining of the rectum and colon. These sores, known as ulcers, can flare up and cause painful symptoms and can eventually lead to colon cancer. Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease and is similar to Crohn's disease.
Ulcerative colitis most frequently begins between the ages of 15 and 30, although many people over the age of 50 also develop the disease. The cause of ulcerative colitis is not known, but may be associated with immune system abnormalities. While stress and other environmental factors are not causes, they may trigger symptoms when the condition exists.
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis occur in flare-ups that can be sudden and severe or begin gradually with mild symptoms. Although each person experiences the disease differently, common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pains
Treatment for ulcerative colitis depends on the severity of the disease, but can include drug therapy to induce and maintain remission, hospitalization to treat severe symptoms or surgery to remove the colon and rectum. Many people with ulcerative colitis eventually need their colons removed because of excessive bleeding and a high risk of cancer. Dr. Lake can help you decide which treatment option is best for you.