Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic idiopathic inflammatory disease of the large bowel. The disease starts at the rectum and may extend proximally to other parts of the large bowel. The cause of UC is unknown, although genetic and environmental factors (hygiene, smoking) may play a part.
Patients with ulcerative colitis have tendency to have rectal bleeding associated with diarrhoea. Other common symptoms include lethargy and abdominal pain. Endoscopy is important to assess the integrity and extent of the large bowel involvement.
The treatment of UC is aim at reducing the bowel inflammation. 5-amino salicylate (5-ASA) is used to treat for mild disease. Corticosteroids may be needed for moderate to severe disease. Patients who has frequent relapses may need immunosuppressant Azathioprine to induce long term remission. In severe cases that are not responding to medical treatment, bowel surgery may be required to remove the inflamed bowel.
Patients are encouraged to join organization such as the National Association of Crohn’s and Colitis (NACC) where they can obtain useful information about Ulcerative Colitis.