Ulcerative Colitis in Washington
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What is ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a part of a much larger set of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This condition causes irritating inflammation and ulcerations inside your intestinal tract, most often the large intestine. Ulcerative colitis differs from Crohn's disease (the other type of IBD) because it is restricted only to the colon. Crohn's disease, conversely, is almost always found at the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon but can potentially involve any part of the GI tract at any point between the mouth to the anus. In addition, ulcerative colitis impacts only the colon's inner lining, while Crohn’s disease may affect the whole bowel wall.
Patients diagnosed with ulcerative colitis commonly deal with painful gastrointestinal symptoms, creating problems in their daily lives. At Washington Gastroenterology, our board-certified gastroenterologists regularly identify and treat ulcerative colitis and work closely with individuals to provide relief from the symptoms it causes. To get help for ulcerative colitis in Washington, we implore you to contact a location near you as soon as possible.
Are there multiple types of ulcerative colitis?
There are several unique classifications of ulcerative colitis, which are often organized by location:
Ulcerative proctitis: The inflammation of an individual's colon is confined to the rectum and is typically the least severe type of ulcerative colitis. A tell-tale sign of ulcerative proctitis is bleeding from the rectum.
Left-sided colitis: Swelling is more dispersed throughout the colon and may affect more than the rectum but is limited to all or a portion of the sigmoid and descending colon. It often causes concerning symptoms, including bloody diarrhea and unintended weight loss.
Pancolitis: This condition is also known as extensive colitis and might affect the entire colon. Symptoms can include severe diarrhea containing blood, extreme abdominal pain, and tiredness.
Acute severe ulcerative colitis: This is a less common form of ulcerative colitis which affects the entire colon. Its symptoms could include extreme pain and the loss of the ability to consume food. The condition typically requires hospitalization and has a much greater chance of surgery.
What causes ulcerative colitis?
The exact reason for the development of ulcerative colitis remains unknown. However, some variables appear to increase the presentation of ulcerative colitis and its symptoms.
- Genetics: An individual may inherit genes from their parents which heighten their risk of being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis
- Immune system: It is believed that viruses or internal bacteria could trigger the onset of ulcerative colitis. When a virus or bacteria enters your digestive tract, your body calls upon your immune system to fight the virus or bacteria. Anytime this occurs, your body directs white blood cells to the colon, causing an attack on healthy cells and tissue. Consequentially your colon, or large intestine, becomes inflamed.
Are there risk factors for ulcerative colitis?
Some of the complicating factors related to having ulcerative colitis may include the following:
- Ethnicity or race: People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and Caucasians are at an elevated risk of developing ulcerative colitis; however, the condition can affect any race
- Family history: If a relative lives with ulcerative colitis, you may have an increased likelihood of suffering from this disease
- Age: Ulcerative colitis often presents before the age of 30
What are the typical symptoms of ulcerative colitis?
Most symptoms common to ulcerative colitis develop gradually and may vary from mild to severe. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis typically include:
- Loss of normal menstrual cycle
- Drainage or pain around or near the anus
- Diarrhea with pus or blood
- Blood in the stool
- Cramps in the stomach
- Rectal pain
- Mouth sores
- Sudden loss of weight
- Pain in the abdomen
If you notice blood in your stool, please reach out to your provider or a specialist in Washington as soon as possible. A gastroenterologist should be seen if you become aware of any of the above symptoms or a combination of symptoms on an ongoing basis. The board-certified gastroenterologists at Washington Gastroenterology can provide skilled care for ulcerative colitis and can help treat and manage these problems.
How is ulcerative colitis treated?
The main goals of ulcerative colitis treatment at Washington Gastroenterology are to manage the swelling that activates the symptoms and enter into remission. Subsequent treatment includes, but is not limited to, screening for cancer since having ulcerative colitis places you at greater risk for developing colon cancer. The main treatments for ulcerative colitis include:
Antibiotics: Antibiotics have been shown to help eliminate bacteria connected with causing the excessive immune system response that leads to swelling. This is not a mainstay of treatment but might be utilized in coordination with alternate therapies.
Anti-inflammatory drugs: Anti-inflammatory medicines utilized to treat ulcerative colitis are oral 5-aminosalicylates and corticosteroids. Corticosteroids assist in reducing swelling in your body and can be administered along with immune system suppressants. Oral 5-aminosalicylates can also work to reduce inflammation in the body.
Additional medications and supplements may be recommended to assist in the control and management of ulcerative colitis symptoms. These might include:
- Iron supplementation
- Vitamin D and calcium supplements
- Vitamin B-12 shots
Long-term anti-inflammatory therapies: This therapy addresses our body’s abnormal immune reaction to bacteria and viruses. The immunosuppressant meds your Washington gastroenterologist might prescribe include:
Nutrition and diet: Your gastrointestinal provider may suggest a specific nutrition plan to reduce symptoms and initiate remission.
Surgery: In severe situations, surgery might be indicated to excise a part of, or the complete, colon or rectum.
Ulcerative Colitis FAQs
How can ulcerative colitis be cured?
Currently, no cure exists for this disorder. Medication interventions can, however, be used to control ulcerative colitis and associated symptoms, but it will not cure your condition. It may be able to help you achieve and remain in disease remission.
Is ulcerative colitis caused by the food I eat?
A link between food and an immediate cause of this condition has not yet been detected. Certain diet choices have been related to a greater risk of getting the condition. This diet often includes foods that are high in sugar, fats, and refined carbs and foods low in fiber, fruits, and veggies.
Who is able to diagnose ulcerative colitis?
It’s likely that your symptoms will cause you to visit your primary care practitioner (PCP). However, if your PCP suspects ulcerative colitis, they should refer you to a gastrointestinal doctor, like those at Washington Gastroenterology. It is important to consult a team that specializes in digestive health.
What can help me reach and stay in remission?
In the event you’ve reached remission for ulcerative colitis, you will likely want to do anything to stay symptom-free. Factors to note while you’re in remission are:
- Stress: Your stress can lead to a flare-up. Good sleep, regular exercise, and learning how to manage your stress can minimize your chances of stress-related symptoms.
- Medications: For pain or fever, you should consider using acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) rather than an NSAID like Motrin® or Advil® because acetaminophen is less likely to exacerbate your symptoms. Talk with your doctor to learn more.
- Medication change: If you notice your current meds seem to cause your symptoms, please inform our office. We could likely swap out your medication for a medication less likely to lead to a flare-up.
Find help for ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis can impact your overall enjoyment of life and digestive well-being. However, with specialized treatment, you can take charge of the situation and enhance your quality of life. Regardless of whether you are experiencing the initial symptoms or managing ulcerative colitis flare-ups after remission, the GI specialists at Washington Gastroenterology can provide you with individualized care options to assist you in finding relief. To connect with a provider who offers treatment for ulcerative colitis in Washington, please get in touch with a local practice in your community today.
Had a great experience, would highly recommend this facility!
As a new patient the staff and Doctor respected me with much care and kindness and I thank them for the care I received! I know Hospitals are always clean ,this place is if not but one of the cleaning places I seen and that really surprised me seriously !
I highly recommend Dr. Selinger and her team at Overlake! She immediately puts you at ease and it’s the most professional of necessary visits. I’ll spare you the pics ;>
Great doctor! Love how she actually hears and cares about my concerns.
I am deeply thankful for Dr. Sang Kim and the team at the Bellevue location. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2019 and had three colonoscopies with Dr. Kim. I heard of cases where patients experienced side effects after a colonoscopy, but I did not experience any side effects and the tests were always accurate. Furthermore, during the follow-ups, Dr. Kim always had thorough explanations about the prescribed medications and carefully reviewed the progress of my GI health over the years.