What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis usually starts in the rectal area and eventually moves through the large intestine and over time causes the inner lining of the large intestine to become inflamed. The cause is still unknown but most of the people who have it also have problems with their immune system. Ulcerative colitis can affect anyone, but those between the ages of 15-30 or 50-70 have a higher risk.
Symptoms may vary in severity and can start slowly begin suddenly. Sometimes stress and certain foods can trigger the symptoms. Symptoms include:
- Bloody stool
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain/cramping that goes away after a bowel movement
- Rectal pain
- Weight loss
- Occasionally gastrointestinal bleeding, joint pain, mouth sores or skin lumps or ulcers may also be present.
A gastroenterologist will diagnose ulcerative colitis by doing a colonoscopy. While a colonoscopy is usually used to help determine whether someone has colon cancer, ulcerative colitis can increase your risk of colon cancer so having additional screenings may be necessary.
Certain foods can worsen diarrhea and gas symptoms. Your gastroenterologist might suggest some diet changes such as eating small amounts of foods throughout the day, avoiding foods that are high in fiber or are very fatty, greasy or fried, drinking plenty of water, and limiting milk products.
Be sure to talk with your gastroenterologist if you think you may have some of these symptoms. They’ll be able to answer any questions you have and suggest additional diet changes or medications that might help.