Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that is characterized by inflammation and the formation of ulcers in your rectum and colon. This painful, chronic condition needs expert treatment, which board-certified gastroenterologist Muhammad Naeem, MD, at Advanced Gastroenterology Associates of SA in San Antonio, Texas, can provide. Dr. Naeem offers onsite biologic transfusion facilities and works closely with leading institutions on research into ulcerative colitis. Call the practice today to find out more or book an appointment online.
Ulcerative colitis affects your colon and rectum, the last sections of your large intestine (colon). It causes life-changing symptoms that can have a considerable effect on your quality of life.
Ulcerative colitis is one of the two types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The other type is Crohn's disease, a similar condition that can affect any part of your gastrointestinal tract. IBD is an autoimmune disorder, which means it's a reaction by your body's immune system that triggers ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Ulcerative colitis causes changes in your bowel habits, so you might start going more frequently. The consistency of your stools is likely to change, too. You might find that you develop looser stools, which could contain blood or pus. The looseness can get worse until you have severe diarrhea.
Ulcerative colitis can also cause fecal incontinence. You might start to find it difficult to hold on long enough to reach the toilet, which results in soiling. You could also have tenesmus, which makes you want to push out stools even when there aren't any in your rectum.
Other symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:
Ulcerative colitis can also cause severe abdominal or rectal pain.
Your symptoms are likely to give your provider at Advanced Gastroenterology Associates of SA a good idea of what's wrong. Other conditions — including colorectal cancer — can also cause these symptoms, so to confirm a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis and make sure there isn’t another cause, you need to undergo a colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure. You prepare for the exam by fasting and flushing out your bowels with strong laxatives that your provider gives you in advance. You won't need an anesthetic for your colonoscopy, but most people benefit from having a sedative to keep them relaxed.
Your provider inserts a type of endoscope called a colonoscope into your rectum. The colonoscope is a flexible tube equipped with a light and a camera. As it passes up your colon, your provider can examine every section for signs of disease.
Your provider might see patches of inflammation or ulceration. They can take a tissue sample (biopsy) for lab analysis to confirm the diagnosis.
Ulcerative colitis isn't curable, but with the right treatment, you can reduce and relieve your symptoms. Your provider at Advanced Gastroenterology Associates of SA might start you on an anti-inflammatory medication like mesalamine. You can take this orally, as a suppository, or both.
If this doesn't offer enough relief, steroid treatments are the next step. Steroids are powerful anti-inflammatories but are best not taken long-term. Another class of drugs called immunomodulators can help by suppressing your immune system.
Biologics are a newer approach that make use of natural substances. Biologics for ulcerative colitis often target tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a leading cause of inflammation. You receive biologics via an intravenous infusion.
Advanced Gastroenterology Associates of SA has a facility for biologics transfusions and works in collaboration with tertiary level institutions and centers of excellence to provide the most effective treatments for patients with ulcerative colitis.
The practice also does clinical research into ulcerative colitis and IBD, so you know you're receiving the latest, most effective treatments at Advanced Gastroenterology Associates of SA. Call today if you have symptoms of ulcerative colitis, or book an appointment online.