What Is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is a disease where inflammation develops in the colon and the rectum (the large intestine). Its is also known as an Auto Immune Disease
Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease and in contrast to Crohn’s disease, which can affect areas of the gastrointestinal tract outside of the colon, ulcerative colitis usually involves the rectum and is confined to the colon.
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a disease of the colon and the rectum (the large intestine).
- Colitis means inflammation of the colon.
- Ulcerative means that ulcers tend to develop, often in places where there is inflammation. An ulcer occurs when the lining of the gut is damaged and the underlying tissue is exposed. If you could see inside your gastrointestinal tract (gut), an ulcer looks like a small, red crater on the inside lining of the gut. Ulcers that occur in UC develop in the large intestine and have a tendency to bleed.
Key Points of Ulcerative Colitis
- Ulcerative colitis is a lifelong condition that affects one in 500 people in the UK.
- Symptoms include urgent diarrhoea with blood or mucus, weight loss and feeling generally unwell.
- There is no medical cure for ulcerative colitis, but many treatments can help to control your symptoms.
- The inflammation and ulcers in the large intestine cause the common symptoms of diarrhoea and passing blood and mucus.
What is inflammatory bowel disease?
When doctors talk of inflammatory bowel disease, they usually mean people who either have UC (Ulcerative Colitis) or Crohn’s disease. Both of these conditions can cause inflammation of the colon and the rectum (large intestine) with similar symptoms such as bloody diarrhoea, etc.
Although these conditions are similar and treatments are similar, there are differences. For example, the inflammation of UC tends to be just in the inner lining of the colon, whereas the inflammation of Crohn’s disease can spread through the whole wall of the intestine. Also, UC only affects the large intestine whereas Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastro tract.
Note: inflammatory bowel disease is sometimes shortened to IBD. This is not the same as IBS which is short for Irritable Bowel Syndrome – IBD Colitis and Crohns are very different diseases.
What are the symptoms during a flare-up of ulcerative colitis?
- Diarrhoea this varies from mild to severe.
- The diarrhoea may be mixed with mucus or pus as well as blood.
- An urgency to get to the toilet is common.
- Blood mixed with diarrhoea is common (bloody diarrhoea).
- Crampy pains in the tummy (abdomen). Can be excruciating
- Pain when passing stools.
- Feeling generally unwell
- High temperature (fever),
- Tiredness & chronic fatigue
- Feeling sick (nausea),
- Weight loss and anaemia may develop.
- Iritus – Ulcers in the eyes
- Joint Pains and temporary arthritis
- If you lose a lot of blood through your bowel movements, you may develop anaemia.
- You may develop a complication known as toxic megacolon.
How does Ulcerative Colitis progress?
UC is a chronic, relapsing condition. Chronic means that it is persistent and ongoing. Relapsing means that there are times when symptoms flare up (relapse) and times when there are few or no symptoms (remission). The severity of symptoms and how frequently they occur vary from person to person. The first flare-up (episode) of symptoms is often the worst.
UC starts in the rectum in most cases. This causes a proctitis, which means inflammation of the rectum. In some cases it only affects the rectum and the colon is not affected. In others, the disease spreads up to affect some, or all, of the colon. Between flare-ups the inflamed areas of colon and rectum heal and symptoms go away. The severity of a flare-up can be classed as mild, moderate or severe:
- Mild – you have fewer than four stools (faeces) daily, with or without blood. You do not feel generally unwell (no systemic disturbance).
- Moderate – you have four to six stools a day and feel mildly unwell in yourself (minimal systemic disturbance).
- Severe – you have more than six stools a day containing blood. You also feel generally unwell with more marked systemic disturbance with things such as high temperature (fever), a fast pulse, anaemia, etc.
How is Ulcerative Colitis controlled?
Ulcerative Colitis is controlled by medications when your in remission and during a flare up. When you have a Flare Up one of the main medications used is Prednisalone and that has a whole host of side effects!!
Some side-effects may be serious while others may only be a mild inconvenience.
Everyone’s reaction to a medicine is different. It is difficult to predict which side-effects you will have from taking a particular medicine, or whether you will have any side-effects at all. The important thing is to tell your prescriber or pharmacist if you are having problems with your medicine.
So if you want to know what I look like on Pred with a Moon Face (Don’t laugh to much!)
Right here goes .…. the list goes on and on ….
- abnormal laboratory test results
- adrenal problems
- appetite gain
- behavioural changes
- blood problems
- bone fractures
- changes in emotions
- Cushing’s syndrome or cushing-likesymptoms
- decreased carbohydrate tolerance – this may lead to an increased requirement for anti-diabetic therapy
- eye or eyesight problems
- fattening of the upper back and neck
- feeling anxious
- feeling dizzy
- feeling nervous
- feeling restless
- gastrointestinal problems such as peptic ulcers
- hair overgrowth
- healing problems
- heart problems
- hiding symptoms of infection
- high levels of cholesterol or other lipids in the blood
- hypersensitivity reactions such as anaphylaxis
- increased blood sugar levels
- increased pressure in the eye
- increased risk of getting infections which may become severe – some of these such as chickenpox may be fatal
- increased sweating
- intracranial hypertension
- irregular menstrual periods
- mania or mania-like behaviour
- memory problems
- metabolic problems
- muscle problems
- muscle weakness
- psychiatric problems -seek immediate medical advice if symptoms such as feeling irritable, euphoria, depressed and labile mood or thoughts of committing suicide occur
- psychotic-like behaviour such as mania, delusions, hallucinations and worsening of schizophrenia
- raised blood pressure
- reactivation of tuberculosis
- reduced growth
- return of the condition that Prednisolone is being used to treat
- skin problems
- sleeping problems
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome
- tendon rupture
- thinning of the skin
- toxic epidermal necrolysis
- tumour lysis syndrome
- water retention
- weight gain
- withdrawal symptoms can occur when this medicine is stopped. These include vomiting, weakness, emotional changes, nausea, intracranial hypertension, dizziness, headache, reappearance of diseasesymptoms, changes to mental state, fever, musclepain, jointpain, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, weight loss or painful, itchy skin. If the dose of Prednisolone is reduced too rapidly serious problems can occur including adrenal problems, lowered blood pressure or death
- worsening of epilepsy
- worsening of schizophrenia
- worsening or reactivation of infections