Illness Spotlight – Ulcerative Colitis

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis one week before me and my then husband, John where traveling with his family to England and France.  I was so nervous, which didn’t help, that I actually wanted to cancel the trip and not go.  I was very afraid that all I would see would be the inside of the bathrooms in both locations.  Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and it started to settle in to tolerable until we hit Paris.  I remember running through the streets just praying for a bathroom and come to find out, public bathrooms arent public, but cost exact change, which I luckily had.  and of course that day, the bathroom was filled and I’m sure everyone in the bathroom knew what it was that I had going on…….diarrhea!

 

According to CCFA (Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of American) UC is:

“Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the large intestine, also known as the colon, in which the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and develops tiny open sores, or ulcers, that produce pus and mucous. The combination of inflammation and ulceration can cause abdominal discomfort and frequent emptying of the colon.”

Once you have had your first “attack”, the disease is never acute but automatically chronic.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

About half of all patients with ulcerative colitis experience mild symptoms. Be sure to consult your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • bowel movements become looser and more urgent
  • persistent diarrhea accompanied by abdominal pain and blood in the stool
  • stool is generally bloody
  • crampy abdominal pain

People suffering from ulcerative colitis often experience loss of appetite and may lose weight as a result. A feeling of low energy and fatigue is also common. Among younger children, ulcerative colitis may delay growth and development.

The symptoms of ulcerative colitis do tend to come and go, with fairly long periods in between flare-ups in which patients may experience no distress at all. These periods of remission can span months or even years, although symptoms do eventually return. The unpredictable course of ulcerative colitis may make it difficult for physicians to evaluate whether a particular course of treatment has been effective or not.

Medication for ulcerative colitis can suppress the inflammation of the colon and allow for tissues to heal. Symptoms including diarrhea, bleeding, and abdominal pain can also be reduced and controlled with effective medication.

In addition to controlling and suppressing symptoms and trying to put the patient into remission, medication can also be used to decrease the frequency of symptom flare ups.  With proper treatment over time, periods of remission can be extended and periods of symptom flare ups can be reduced.  Several types of medication are being used to treat ulcerative colitis today. Here is a list of a few medications that is used to treat UC.

  1. Prednisone
  2. Remicade
  3. Asacol
  4. Humira
  5. Clonidine
  6. Prednicot

I have tried all but Humira and the ones I tried, never put me into “remission”.   I just now tolerate it when I get a flare  up.  Being on a drug like Prednisone, you starts on a certain dose and immediately start to come off the medication.  Prednisone is a steroid and it swells you up horribly. So basically no matter which way you go, Ulcertive Colitis is not fun to have!

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