Ulcerative colitis is a serious disease that needs ongoing management to avoid potential complications. As top New York City gastroenterologists, Dr. Jaffin and Dr. Weiss are skilled in using advanced techniques for managing ulcerative colitis in patients at his Upper West Side practice.
Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can cause permanent changes as well as ulcers (sores) in the inner lining of the large intestine (colon) and the rectum. Without proper treatment, ulcerative colitis can cause serious symptoms like profuse bleeding which can become life-threatening.
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis can vary based on where the inflammation is occurring as well as the severity of the inflammation. Most symptoms develop slowly over time and may include:
bloody stools or rectal bleeding
increased urgency to move your bowels
unintentional weight loss
Having ulcerative colitis can increase your risk of developing colon cancer and it also increases the risk of developing a perforated colon.
The cause of ulcerative colitis is not known, but researchers believe it occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy tissues of the digestive tract. Having a close relative with ulcerative colitis can increase your risk for developing the disease. Some research has indicated a possible link between use of the acne drug isotretinoin and an increased risk of ulcerative colitis, but no definitive link has been proven.
Ulcerative colitis diagnosis starts with an office exam to discuss symptoms and look for risk factors for IBD, followed by a colonoscopy and sometimes a stool sample to confirm a diagnosis.
Most cases of ulcerative colitis can be managed with medication, which may include anti-inflammatory medications, immune-suppressing drugs, antibiotics, pain medication and medicine to control diarrhea. It often takes time to determine the combination of medications that works for each patient's unique needs. In a few rare cases, surgery may be needed to remove the colon and rectum.