Ulcerative colitis can happen at any age, but it often appears earlier than you might expect, with most people diagnosed between the ages of 15-30. The experienced team at Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates has vast experience with ulcerative colitis, helping you to manage your symptoms, prevent complications, and keep your disease in remission. If you struggle with abdominal pain and diarrhea, don’t wait to get the relief you need. Call the office in Fairfax or Reston, Virginia, to schedule a prompt appointment.
Ulcerative colitis is one of the primary types of inflammatory bowel disease. You develop ulcerative colitis when your immune system mistakenly attacks your colon and rectum, causing inflammation and open sores called ulcers.
Your symptoms may appear gradually or you could have a sudden flare-up. Ulcerative colitis typically goes through flares that alternate with periods of remission.
When symptoms appear, you experience one or more of the following:
Your symptoms may vary over time, ranging from mild to severe pain and frequent bowel movements.
Having ulcerative colitis increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer. For this reason, Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates may recommend getting a colonoscopy every 1-3 years, depending on your general health and if you have other conditions that add to your risk.
You may also have symptoms in areas of your body outside the colon. Joint inflammation is one of the most common problems, but you may also have problems such as skin rashes, eye inflammation, and liver disease. Ulcerative colitis also increases your risk for anemia and osteoporosis.
The treatment for ulcerative colitis depends on variables such as how much of your large intestine is affected and the severity of your symptoms.
Though Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates customizes your treatment, it usually begins with medications. Your provider may prescribe medications that reduce inflammation, relieve specific symptoms, suppress your immune system, and help keep the disease in remission.
If you have severe symptoms and medication doesn’t help, you may be a good candidate for surgery. Two surgical procedures – proctocolectomy and colectomy – cure ulcerative colitis by removing the damaged tissues.
When your rectum is healthy, your doctor at Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates performs a colectomy to remove the colon. Then they join the lower part of your small intestine to the rectum so you can keep passing stool normally.
During a proctocolectomy, your provider removes the rectum and colon. In many cases, they can create an internal pouch that gives you the ability to have normal bowel movements. Some patients may need an external pouch to collect waste.
If you need help with ulcerative colitis, schedule an appointment by calling Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates today.