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Ulcerative Colitis Specialists in Concord, NC

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation of the large intestine, also known as the colon. Doctors categorize ulcerative colitis as a type of inflammatory bowel disease. In ulcerative colitis, the lining of the large intestine becomes inflamed and develops open sores, known as ulcers. These ulcers produce mucus and pus, which causes abdominal pain and feeling like you need to empty your bowels frequently.


Common Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of inflammation and where it occurs. Depending on which part of the colon is affected, symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea, often with blood or puss
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Rectal pain or bleeding during bowel movements
  • Unexplained weight loss

Common Causes of Ulcerative Colitis

The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. Previously, diet and stress were suspected, but now doctors know these may aggravate, but don't cause colitis. When your body tries to fight off a virus or bacterium, an abnormal response causes the immune system to attack cells in the digestive tract. Some risk factors may include age (colitis often begins before age 30) and family history.

How To Get Diagnosed

Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on your medical history, a physical examination, and various tests. Following this, your provider will typically evaluate your colon, using a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

Are There Any Risk Factors For Ulcerative Colitis

The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, but several factors may contribute to its development. While no specific risk factors guarantee someone will develop the condition, certain factors are associated with an increased risk of ulcerative colitis:

  • Genetics: There is a strong genetic component to ulcerative colitis. Individuals with a family history of inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis, are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
  • Immune System: Abnormal immune responses may play a role in the development of ulcerative colitis. The immune system might react to normal bacteria in the digestive tract, triggering inflammation.
  • Environmental Factors: Certain environmental factors may contribute, including living in urban areas, being exposed to air pollution, and having a higher socioeconomic status.
  • Age and Ethnicity: Ulcerative colitis can occur at any age, but it often begins between the ages of 15 and 30. There is also an increased incidence in certain ethnic groups, including Caucasians and people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
  • Geography: The prevalence of ulcerative colitis varies by geographic location, with higher rates observed in Western countries and urban areas. This suggests that lifestyle and environmental factors may influence its occurrence.
  • Smoking: Smoking appears to have a protective effect against the development of ulcerative colitis. However, it is not a recommended strategy due to the numerous health risks associated with smoking.
  • Prior Infections: Some studies suggest that a history of certain gastrointestinal infections might be linked to an increased risk of developing ulcerative colitis.

It's important to note that while these factors are associated with an increased risk, many people with ulcerative colitis do not have any identifiable risk factors. Additionally, the interplay between genetics, environment, and the immune system in the development of the disease is complex and not fully understood. If someone has concerns about their risk of ulcerative colitis, they should consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice based on their medical history and family background.

Possible Complications of Ulcerative Colitis

Chronic bleeding from ulcerative colitis can cause a shortage of red blood cells, a condition known as anemia. Because ulcerative colitis interferes with nutrient absorption, some people with the condition may experience weight loss or problems with their skin, eyes, joints, liver, or kidneys.

What is The Treatment For Ulcerative Colitis

Peptic ulcers will get worse if not treated. Treatment may include medicines to reduce stomach acids or antibiotics to kill H. pylori. Antacids and milk can't heal peptic ulcers. Avoiding alcohol and not smoking can help. You may need surgery if your ulcers don't heal.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many people in the United States have ulcerative colitis?

About a million people in the US have ulcerative colitis.

When does ulcerative colitis usually develop?

Ulcerative colitis usually develops between the ages of 15 and 30, although it can appear at any age. Inflammation associated with ulcerative colitis can flare several times through life to cause recurring signs and symptoms.

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Contact Info

Northeast Digestive Health Center
1070 Vinehaven Drive NE
Concord, North Carolina 28025
Phone: (704)783-1840
Fax: (704)783-1850
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