Ulcerative colitis is a condition that is still stumping the very best doctors in the world. How are those who are living with this disease and their caregivers to know what is important? Following is my top 10 list of what everyone with ulcerative colitis should know about this condition.
1. Ulcerative Colitis Is A Form Of IBD
Ulcerative colitis is one of the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
. The other is Crohn's disease. These two diseases have similar symptoms and are treated by some of the same drugs, but are actually quite different
. It is important to know which form of IBD is present before a treatment plan can be devised. There is no cure
for either form of IBD. It is a lifelong condition.
2. No One Knows What Causes IBD
Ulcerative colitis is known as an idiopathic disease, or a disease with an unknown cause. There are, however, several theories about the origins of ulcerative colitis
and conditions that may contribute to its development. None of these theories is yet proven, and much more study will need to be completed before there is a definitive answer.
3. Symptoms Of Ulcerative Colitis Include:
4. Extra-intestinal Symptoms Include:
5. Stress Does Not Cause Ulcerative Colitis
In the past, it was widely believed that there was a psychological component to IBD. Older studies that showed that stress
and psychological problems played a role in the development of IBD have remained unconfirmed. Many people still believe the false IBD/stress connection.
6. Ulcerative Colitis Occurs More Often In Non-SmokersFormer smokers
are at the highest risk for developing ulcerative colitis, while current smokers are at the least risk. This indicates that something about smoking cigarettes (most likely the nicotine) may prevent the development of ulcerative colitis.
7. An Increased Risk Of Colon Cancer
The risk of colon cancer
increases after 8 to 10 years of active ulcerative colitis. People with ulcerative colitis primarily in the rectum have the lowest risk of developing colon cancer; disease in just part of the colon involved carries an intermediate risk; disease in the entire colon has the greatest risk. However, keep in mind that more than 90% of IBD patients never develop colon cancer.
8. NSAIDs May Be RiskyNSAIDs
(non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
) such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can cause inflammation and worsen bleeding in the small intestine. People with ulcerative colitis should consult with their gastroenterologist before taking NSAIDs, even those NSAIDs that are available at drug stores. There is new evidence
to suggest that the risk may not be as significant as once thought, but many gastroenterologists still recommend that their patients with IBD not use these drugs.
9. Women With IBD Can Have Children
A healthy pregnancy
and baby are both possible. Fertility rates for women with IBD are the same as women who are in good health. For women whose ulcerative colitis is in remission, the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and congenital abnormality are the same as that for healthy women.
10. Take Care With Antidiarrheal MedicationsAntidiarrheal medications
are associated with a risk of toxic megacolon
. It is generally advised that these medications should only taken by persons with ulcerative colitis under the close supervision of a physician.