Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms, Signs and Diagnosis: No one knows the exact cause of ulcerative colitis. There have been several theories about what triggers the often painful condition including factors like diet and stress. Nevertheless, while research has revealed that these factors may aggravate the symptoms, they are not usually the underlying cause of the condition, which still remains elusive today.
The signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis can vary from one person to the next, depending on a number of different factors. One of the first signs a doctor will look for is the location of the discomfort or pain. The symptoms will be reflected based on the section of the colon that is inflamed. Ulcerative proctitis is the inflammation of the rectum, which can show symptoms like rectal bleeding, rectal pain, urgent need to defecate, and an ineffective urge to eliminate one’s bowels.
Proctosigmoiditis is when the inflammation starts in the rectum and then extends up through the left colon. Symptoms can include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, loss of weight, and abdominal pain on the left side only.
Pancolitis or universal colitis occurs when the entire colon is inflamed. Symptoms can include bloody diarrhea, pain in the abdomen, loss of weight, cramping, fatigue, night sweats, and fever. Those who suffer from pancolitis often experience more severe inflammation, which can be more difficult to treat than other types of this condition.
Fulminant colitis is a very rare form of this disease, which causes extreme symptoms that lead to dehydration, severe pain in the abdomen, protracted diarrhea with excessive bleeding, and shock. Those who suffer from fulminant colitis are at a high risk of a colonic rupture and more than likely will require hospitalization where they can be treated intravenously to relieve symptoms. In some cases, surgical removal of the colon may be necessary.
Understanding the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis is essential for proper treatment and relief. In most cases the symptoms will come and go over time with extended periods of time between flare-ups. In most cases, these are few and far between and the symptoms are limited to the rectal area. However, there are some cases where the condition can worsen into more severe cases where more drastic measures may be needed in order to keep the condition from spreading.
Diagnosis of ulcerative colitis can be done in a variety of ways. Doctors may request a stool sample, take blood tests, or perform a colonoscopy to take a biopsy to test the colon. They may also do a barium enema X-ray in order to obtain a visual of the colon to see if inflammation is present.
It is important to understand that if you suspect that you are experiencing any signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis that you seek medical treatment in order to get the relief you need. Mild cases may be treated with over-the-counter medications but it’s best to seek an accurate diagnosis first. This way, you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with and you and your doctor can work with you in order to get you the relief you need.