Ulcerative Colitis

This complaint involves an acute inflammation of the lining of the large bowel. It occurs in about 80 per 100,000 of population, and is virtually unknown in negroes. The cause is unknown, although recent evidence suggests that it may indicate a disorder of the body’s normal defence mechanism, the so-called “auto-immune system” of the body. It responds poorly to treatment, and recurrences and a chronic course are more common. It is primarily a disorder of adolescents and young adults.

Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

These include lower-bowel disturbances. Diarrhoea is common, and there is usually blood and mucus in the stools. Occasionally constipation is present. There is a loss of appetite, general loss of vitality, weight loss, intermittent fevers, anaemia, and this may lead to profound debility. In turn, it may develop more serious complications, involving other parts of the intestinal system.
Diagnosis is usually made when the bowel is examined directly by the sigmoidoscope or the fibre-optic colonoscope. The normal healthy bowel lining breaks easily and bleeds readily.

Ulcerative Colitis Treatment

Acute upsurges require expert attention in hospital. In the early stages, medical treatment may be helpful. Certain sulfa drugs (sulfasalazinc) act specifically. Corticosteroids are used either orally or locally in the form of suppositories and enemas. As improvement occurs, patients may be taught to self-administer these enemas that are supplied in plastic packs.
In many cases, remissions make it advisable for surgical treatment to be undertaken. The diseased part of the bowel is removed.