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Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes long-lasting inflammation (swelling) and ulcers (sores) in the digestive tract. It affects the innermost lining of the large intestine (colon) and the rectum. UC occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy bowel cells. This can lead to bowel damage and severe abdominal symptoms.
While the exact cause is unknown, experts believe several factors may be linked to ulcerative colitis, including:
Types of ulcerative colitis are categorized by location and the extent of inflammation. Types include:
Inflammation is limited to the rectum. Ulcerative proctitis typically affects less than six inches of the rectum.
Continuous inflammation affects the distal colon (the part of the colon that travels down the left side of the abdomen toward the rectum). Proctosigmoiditis is a form of life-sided colitis that affects the sigmoid colon (the last part of the colon that connects to the rectum).
Inflammation and ulcers cover the entire length of the colon.
Symptoms vary and may come and go. But people who experience the following symptoms should discuss them with their doctor:
Beyond the intestine, ulcerative colitis can cause other side effects, including:
Having ulcerative colitis can seem overwhelming, especially during flare-ups of severe abdominal symptoms. But Mercy offers treatments to help people with ulcerative colitis manage their symptoms and enjoy active lives. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimizing the long-term effects of ulcerative colitis. Mercy uses several tools and treatments to identify and manage the condition.
A physical exam and a series of tests are performed to diagnose ulcerative colitis. Tests may include:
Mercy gastroenterologists treat ulcerative colitis with medication, nutritional therapy and sometimes bowel surgery.
Medications used to treat ulcerative colitis include:
Mercy dietitians can assess the nutritional status of people with ulcerative colitis and recommend dietary or lifestyle changes to improve their symptoms. A food diary can be used to identify foods that trigger ulcerative colitis symptoms.
Surgery may be needed if medication and nutrition therapy aren’t controlling ulcerative colitis symptoms — or if complications like severe bleeding occur. Mercy offers a variety of surgical treatment options, including minimally invasive procedures to repair or remove damaged areas of the GI tract.
J-pouch surgery is also known as Ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA) surgery. This procedure restores the ability to eliminate waste normally after the removal of the entire large intestine (colon and rectum).
At Mercy, we offer comprehensive ulcerative colitis testing services to diagnose conditions and injuries, including:
At Mercy, we offer compassionate care for a variety of treatment options for ulcerative colitis, including: