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Ulcerative colitis shares many of the same characteristics with regional ileitis or crohn's disease; the two are often included in the broader diagnostic entity called inflammatory bowel disease. There are some who believe that both disorders are immunologic responses to the same as yet unknown etiologic agent.
Genetic predisposition to inflammatory bowel disease may exist; there is a higher incidence of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease among close relatives. Ulcerative colitis is slightly more prevalent in females than in males and most often appears between the ages of 15 and 20 years with a smaller peak at 55 to 60 years of age. Crohn's disease follows a similar pattern of incidence.
A sudden and severe attack of the disease can lead to cessation of bowel function and toxic megacolon or dilatation of the colon. This can occur spontaneously, or it may be preceded by barium enema, hyperkalemia, or anticholinergic narcotics, or there may be bacterial overgrowth with production of exotoxin. Other complications include severe blood loss and anemia, systemic toxicity, and metabolic disturbances. A serious sequela of long-term chronic and continuous ulcerative colitis is carcinoma of the colon, which occurs in approximately 5% of people with ulcerative colitis. The risk of it is lower for persons who have infrequent relapses than for those who are symptomatic for years. Guidelines on screening for colon cancer have been developed by an expert panel and endorsed by numerous organizations concerned with the care of patients with GI diseases. They advise colonoscopy every one to two years for people who have had inflammatory bowel disease throughout the colon for at least 8 years or who have had it in the left colon for at least 15 years.
The plan of care should include observation of the number and character of stools, periodic auscultation of bowel sounds, measurement of intake and output, daily weight, checking for signs of bleeding and anemia, and monitoring of blood gases, electrolytes, and pH for evidence of acid-base imbalance or abnormal electrolyte values. It also is important to be alert for signs of inflammatory changes in the joints or lesions on the skin.
When diagnostic procedures such as sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, and stool analyses are necessary, patients should have a satisfactory explanation of the purpose of these tests and what is expected of them before, during, and after each procedure.
Long-term goals of care should help the patient comply with the prescribed medical regimen, which usually consists of antidiarrheic agents, anticholinergic drugs to relieve abdominal cramps, mild sedatives, and a diet of low-residue, bland foods that have high caloric and protein content. Antibiotics are sometimes needed to control infections of the bowel.
Surgical intervention may be the only alternative when more conservative treatments fail. The surgery usually involves creation of a permanent ileostomy, which brings on a new set of problems.
There is no cure for ulcerative colitis, and it is a debilitating disorder that can create many physiologic, psychological, and social problems for the patient. The frequent bouts of severe diarrhea and discomfort can be embarrassing and depressing. Emotional support, empathetic listening, and cooperative problem solving are essential components of patient care. Further information may be obtained by writing The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America Inc., 386 Park Avenue South, 17th floor, New York, NY 10016-8804, calling them at 1-800-932-2423 or 1-212-685-3440, or consulting their web site at http://www.ccfa.org.
Patient discussion about ulcerative
Q. Is it an ulcer? I am worried! Hi friend, I'm 35 year old male and recently I started to suffer from some strange symptoms I have never experienced. The first symptom was sharp pain in my upper abdomen that starts two of three hours after eating. In the beginning I thought it could be connected with some food intolerance but then I started to get this pain early in the morning, before any eating what so ever and all this was accompanied with nausea, frequent burping and weight loss. I have read some stuff about stomach ulcer and I could say that I poses almost every major symptom. Is there any way for me to be sure that I have developed disease of ulcer?
Q. What are the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis? I am 40 years old and suffer from a lot of stomach aches and diarrhea. Do I have Ulcerative Colitis? What are its symptoms?
Q. What is the difference between duodenal ulcer and stomach ulcer? I was diagnosed recently with duodenal ulcer. I heard the term stomach ulcer but not duodenal. What causes duodenal and what cause stomach ulcer? And how do they treat duodenal ulcer?