Lonestar Gastroenterology

5 Common Signs of Ulcerative Colitis

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5 Common Signs of Ulcerative Colitis

Inflammatory bowel disease affects millions of people, and ulcerative colitis is a long-term digestive problem that can lead to complications like bleeding, dehydration, and more. Read on to learn what signs to look for.

Your digestive system is vital to processing food, providing nutrients, and removing waste from your body. Every part of the process needs to work to keep the system healthy, and sadly several problems can affect how well it functions. Inflammatory bowel disease is a collective term for several long-term conditions that affect your digestive system; over 3 million people have been diagnosed with some form of this condition, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The latter form of bowel disease generally starts in your rectum and can spread into parts of your colon (large intestine). Ulcerative colitis is not a fatal disease but can lead to complications that are life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated in time. To understand this condition and its symptoms, we examine what ulcerative colitis is, how you get it, and what to look for.

Dr. Rajesh Mehta and his experienced medical team at LoneStar Gastroenterology can offer the help you need if you live in Austin, Texas, and you’re struggling with the signs of ulcerative colitis or other digestive problems.

What is ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic bowel condition that inflames your digestive tract and creates sores (ulcers), and can affect several parts of your lower digestive tract:

  • Ulcerative proctitis: This type affects only your rectum located just below your colon.
  • Proctosigmoiditis: This affects your rectum and sigmoid colon, the section of the colon connected to it.
  • Left-sided colitis: This is when the condition has moved past the sigmoid colon into the descending colon.
  • Pancolitis: This form affects the entire colon and your rectum.

This condition develops over time, and its severity varies depending on its location and how much inflammation you’re struggling with. It is an illness with mild to moderate symptoms and has periods of remission that can last a long time.

How do you get it?

Acute inflammation in the colon, commonly known as colitis, is often caused by treatable viruses and bacteria. Ulcerative colitis, caused by other factors, is not so simple. Current research suggests complex problems with an overactive immune response are primarily responsible. Other factors include age (it is more common in people between 15-30 and over 60), family history, and a high-fat diet. 

Anyone can get ulcerative colitis, but people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and white people are at the highest risk. Stress, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or antibiotics can trigger flare-ups.

What signs should you look for?

During remission, this condition has no symptoms, but during a flare-up, you may experience a variety of forms of digestive stress, including: