Ulcerative Colitis

Related Terms

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease)


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Ulcerative colitis is a disease of the colon that is closely related to Crohn's disease . The two are grouped in a category called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) , because they both involve inflammation of the digestive tract. The major symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. When the disease becomes severe, individuals may develop fever, weight loss, dehydration, and anemia. Sometimes, constipation develops instead of diarrhea. Arthritis, skin sores, and liver inflammation may occur as well.One of the most feared consequences of ulcerative colitis is dramatic dilation of the colon, which can lead to fatal perforation of the colon. Ulcerative colitis also leads to a greatly increased risk of colon cancer.Ulcerative colitis tends to wax and wane, with periods of remission punctuated by severe flare-ups. Medical treatment aims at reducing symptoms and inducing and maintaining remission.Sulfasalazine is one of the most common medications for ulcerative colitis. Given either orally or as an enema, it can both decrease symptoms and prevent recurrences. Corticosteroids , such as prednisone, are used similarly in more severe cases, sometimes combined with other immunosuppressive drugs, such as azathioprine and cyclosporine . Partial removal of the colon may be necessary in severe cases.

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