Diagnosing And Treating Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and sores to develop in the digestive tract. UC can affect everything from the rectum to the entire colon. Symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal pain, rectal bleeding, and other digestive issues can gradually appear. When bowel habits change unexpectedly, patients can consult a doctor to diagnose and begin treating the disease.
Getting to the root of the problem
Doctors may employ a variety of diagnostic methods to determine whether a patient has UC. Doctors may request a stool sample, blood test, x-ray, CT scan, or MRI, as well as perform a comprehensive medical examination to diagnose the severity. UC conditions vary based on the location of the symptoms in the colon.
Identifying inflammation and sores in the colon
Doctors may use a colonoscopy to diagnose UC. A colonoscope is a thin and long tube with an attached camera that captures video images of the colon and rectum. Before the procedure, individuals must clean the inside of the colon with a laxative. During the procedure, a doctor will sedate and medicate the patient to prevent discomfort. Doctors will use the scope to look for inflammation, sores, or any precancerous growths called polyps. Some small polyps can be removed during the same visit. The doctor may also remove small pieces of tissue throughout the colon called a biopsy and send the samples in for analysis. Lab analysis can confirm the presence or absence of cancer.
Treating ulcerative colitis
UC can be treated with drugs, changes in diet, or surgery if the damage is severe enough. Drugs can reduce inflammation and allow the colon to heal. Symptoms should be treated immediately. Medications prescribed include antibiotics, immunosuppressive agents, corticosteroids, and sulfa drugs.
Preventing colorectal cancer
Chronic UC can increase a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer. Diagnosing the problem early can help patients and doctors keep track of and manage symptoms. Patients are recommended to get colorectal screenings after living with UC for 8-10 years. Most patients with UC don’t get cancer, but being safe and aware is better than catching cancer too late. For more information about the condition, speak with a healthcare provider.