Ulcerative colitis still does not have a known cure, but a variety of treatment options, including surgery, can help eliminate life-threatening complications.
Ulcerative colitis (UC for short) is a disease that inflames your colon. You can develop ulcerative colitis at any age, but most people who have UC develop it in childhood or in their twenties.
If you get diagnosed with UC, one of the first things you will learn is that the condition has no known cure. Now for the good news: a wide variety of treatment options can successfully reduce symptoms, and help get your life back to normal.
Despite how common ulcerative colitis is, the exact cause is still a mystery. Although many people believe that stress or dietary choices can contribute to UC, neither of these factors actually cause the condition. The most prominent medical theory is that UC may be the result of an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders can lead to a wide range of diseases — such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and lupus — that chronically affect your body.
Ulcerative colitis can manifest itself in many different ways, from undetectably mild symptoms to severe gastrointestinal pain and bleeding. Though every case of UC is different, there are some symptoms that are common among people who suffer from the disease.
Many people with UC experience difficulty with bowel movements, including diarrhea and urgent trips to the bathroom. Your symptoms likely point to UC if your bowel movements are so urgent they wake you up in the middle of the night. People with UC also commonly suffer from:
A variety of ulcerative colitis treatment options allow you to continue to live a healthy, happy life with your UC in remission. Not only does treatment boost your quality of life, but it is also important to prevent long-term, potentially life-threatening complications of ulcerative colitis. If UC is left untreated, it can lead to osteoporosis, an increased risk of blood clots, and even colon cancer.
There are two main categories of treatment options for ulcerative colitis: surgical and non-surgical.
Non-surgical treatments can be quite effective for people with mild symptoms. Sometimes, adjusting your diet can be enough to send your UC into remission. Many people with UC find that by consuming less fiber, minimizing alcohol and caffeine, and limiting spicy foods, mild UC symptoms can become even milder.
If your symptoms don’t go away with dietary changes, your doctor may prescribe you medications to reduce inflammation, suppress your immune system, or reduce the risk of bacterial infection.
If you are taking medication for ulcerative colitis and your symptoms are still severe, talk to your doctor about surgical options. Surgical treatment for UC usually includes removing a portion of your gastrointestinal tract. UC surgery often involves creating an ostomy, which may require you to dispose of your bodily waste using an ostomy bag or a drainage tube.
At the Center for Ileostomy Surgery in Los Angeles, Dr. Don Schiller specializes in J-pouch and Barnett Continental Internal Reservoir (BCIR) surgeries to relieve the symptoms of UC and other gastrointestinal conditions. If ulcerative colitis is making your life unmanageable, contact us today.