Ulcerative colitis is part of what is called IBD, chronic inflammatory bowel disease. This condition is similar to Crohn's disease but can be distinguished with some differences. It affects on average three times more men than women, and inflammation begins in the lining of the rectum and then gradually spreads to the entire colon without discontinuity. In Crohn's disease, lesions are discontinuous and leave gaps of healthy mucosa. The development is in the form of successive relapses and complications may arise as colon cancer. This condition is of unknown origin, but it still seems to be somewhat hereditary.
Ulcerative colitis occurs in the following manner:
- rectal bleeding;
- diarrhea, sometimes mucoid;
- abdominal pain;
- a deterioration in one's general condition with loss of weight and appetite;
- sometimes, non-digestive symptoms such as joint pain and skin lesions.
The diagnosis of ulcerative colitis is made through an endoscopy of the rectum and colon during a colonoscopy, which reveals lesions without intervals of healthy mucosa.
The treatment of ulcerative colitis requires plenty of rest and the use of various molecules. Drugs such as sulfasalazine or mesalazine, or the use of corticosteroids can act on inflammation during flare-ups. Other molecules such as immunosuppressants are also possible. Surgery, which involves removing the affected part or the entire colon, is an option when the disease is in a very serious form (called severe acute colitis), in cases of suspected cancerous lesions or when drugs are ineffective.