Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the bowel. It causes inflammation in the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis can also cause ulcers to develop in the rectum and colon. While treatment can help in this condition, but there is no cure for ulcerative colitis except for surgically having the colon removed.

Lifestyle changes and certain treatments can alleviate the symptoms of the disease. If left untreated, then Ulcerative colitis can cause severe complications. Many times people hope that if they avoid any treatment for the condition, the symptoms will go away on their own. However, if you are struggling to decide whether you should treat Ulcerative colitis, then it is important for you to be aware that there are many risks involved in not getting Ulcerative colitis treated. Today we look at the risks of having untreated ulcerative colitis.

4 Potential Risks of Untreated Ulcerative Colitis

If you are unsure about whether or not you should undergo treatment for Ulcerative colitis, then it is important to know that there are several risks involved in leaving this condition untreated. Some of these potential risks of not treating Ulcerative colitis are discussed below.

Vitamin Deficiencies and Dehydration

People suffering from Ulcerative colitis are more prone to vitamin deficiencies and dehydration, particularly when you are undergoing treatment for Ulcerative colitis. This is because the frequent emptying of your colon in the form of diarrhea can cause significant nutrient and water loss from the body. In fact, often times you may feel like you are consuming enough water and nutrients to stay healthy and well hydrated.

Complications that can arise from dehydration and vitamin deficiency caused by Ulcerative colitis may include:

  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • General fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Urinary and kidney problems

Your doctor will advise you on strategies you can use to avoid becoming dehydrated and vitamin deficient when you have a Ulcerative colitis flare-up.

You should also drink plenty of water, avoid drinking caffeinated and carbonated beverages, and also stay away from prune or vegetable juices. However, during a Ulcerative colitis flare-up, it can be possible that these simple methods are not effective anymore and your doctor will then recommend certain multivitamins that will not only boost your immune system but will also help you stay hydrated.

Random Flare-Ups

Ulcerative colitis flare-ups can cause bleeding, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and are very painful. Ulcerative colitis flare-ups can happen randomly and are very unpredictable. A flare-up can come at any time, regardless of the fact that you are doing everything right with regards to your lifestyle and diet.

To manage Ulcerative colitis flare-ups, you should get consistent medical treatment. As mentioned above, there is no cure for Ulcerative colitis, but there are several types of drug therapies that can help you manage the flare-ups. These include:

  • Steroids
  • Biologics
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs

You should work together with your doctor to determine the correct drug therapy for your condition.

Nausea

Nausea is a very common symptom of Ulcerative colitis. Feeling nauseated is not only uncomfortable, but it also causes other Ulcerative colitis complications such as weight loss and loss of appetite. Continuous nausea can also cause several other issues that may cause flare-ups and relapses of Ulcerative colitis.

You should consult your doctor to come up with an anti-nausea plan that will also include having a nutrient-rich and low-fiber diet. This will ensure that you are eating sufficiently and a low-fiber diet will also help you fight off nausea. You can also try to eat smaller meals at smaller intervals to make sure you are able to easily digest the food. Pureed foods will also be easier to digest.

Certain foods and beverages you must avoid when feeling nauseous include:

Other Conditions

If you do not undertake any treatment for Ulcerative colitis, then you are at a higher risk of developing many other chronic conditions such as:

  • Liver Damage. If the liver becomes too damaged or inflamed, then it can cause liver damage. However, in the majority of the cases, this damage is reversible through proper treatment.
  • General Joint Pain or Arthritis. There are cases of Ulcerative colitis -related arthritis, where joint pain is limited to only a few joints. With a proper diagnosis, you and your doctor can form a treatment plan that complements your Ulcerative colitis treatment at the same time.
  • Colon Cancer. People who suffer from Ulcerative colitis are at an increased risk of getting colon cancer. Research has shown that there is a possibility that the longer you are suffering from UC, the higher the chances of developing colon cancer. However, with proper treatment, frequent monitoring of your symptoms, and testing, you can significantly lower your risk of getting Ulcerative colitis -related colon cancer.
  • Osteoporosis. When Ulcerative colitis is left untreated, it can cause severe deficiencies of vitamin D in the body. Since vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, a severe deficiency in levels of vitamin D can cause osteoporosis. You should make dietary changes and start taking vitamin supplements to reduce this risk.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are several risks associated with untreated Ulcerative colitis. Your doctor will work together with you to come up with the best treatment plan for managing the symptoms of Ulcerative colitis considering the severity of your condition. If you avoid even getting diagnosed or treating Ulcerative colitis, then you are increasing your risk of developing many other chronic conditions. Therefore, it is always better to have any symptoms checked by a doctor and get the proper tests done to diagnose Ulcerative colitis and start your treatment.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 20, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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