Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition, due to which symptoms develop gradually, rather than abruptly. The innermost lining of the large intestine, i.e. colon, and rectum are commonly affected by ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis does not have any known cure. Treatment comprises of reducing the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis and in trying to bring a long-term remission.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?
With ulcerative colitis, the signs and symptoms keep coming and going. For a while you may not feel any symptoms (referred as remission period) and then symptoms appear all of a sudden (referred to as flare ups). The symptoms of ulcerative colitis can vary from one person to another as they depend on various factors like severity of irritation, amount of swelling, part of colon that is affected etc...
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis are very unpredictable and you may not feel any symptoms for weeks, months, or even years, and then all of a sudden they can appear one day. It is equally likely that the symptoms will appear in some person and not in any other person.
Diarrhea is a Symptom of Ulcerative Colitis
Most of the people suffering from ulcerative colitis are likely to show symptoms of diarrhea associated with traces of blood in toilet and stool. Also the colon will not hold anything which means you will have to go to toilet every time you eat. Food with lot of spices or fiber will make it more severe. The urge to empty your colon can even push you out of the sleep. Sometimes you may not even have enough time to get to toilet.
Pain in the Stomach or Abdomen is a Symptom of Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis can often cause severe pain in stomach with feeling of cramps especially when you are having a bowel movement or just when you are ready for the same.
The pain may also be felts in some parts other than the stomach. Some of the people may feel pain in joints while others may have difficulty in looking at bright lights with a feeling of pain.
Fatigue is a Symptom of Ulcerative Colitis
Fatigue is one of the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and fatigue can make you feel tired because of the following reasons:
- Your diet can get affected badly and you will not feel the urge to eat as your digestive system is not working properly. This would deny energy to your body.
- Colon can quickly get affected by symptoms like diarrhea, swelling and inflammation which can hamper the ability of colon to extract simple food particles that result into energy.
- Ulcerative colitis can make an individual anemic due to the loss of blood through stool and toilet.
- You will not be able to sleep properly because of the urge to empty your colon.
- Your body will get depleted of water as a result of diarrhea.
Weight Loss Can be a Sign of Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis will ultimately cause a lot of reduction in body weight because you body will not be able to digest the food. Also the food will not be absorbed properly and it will drain quickly so weight loss is a major sign of ulcerative colitis.
Sores Can also be a Symptom of Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is often associated with sores in skin and the mouth. Also rashes may appear on your skin. Sores are the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
Some of the Signs and Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis are Tricky
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis are not very definitive as they can occur as a result of many other situations. Some of these tricky symptoms of ulcerative colitis are as follows:
- Crohn's disease will have some of the same symptoms that lead to the inflammation in your stomach and intestine.
- An infection.
- Irritable/Uncomfortable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It is strongly recommended to refer your doctor in case of any of the above mentioned symptoms. Also the chances of symptoms being caused by ulcerative colitis are higher in case you have already had ulcerative colitis in the past.
Some of the other symptoms of ulcerative colitis are as follows:
- Pain in joints is also a symptom of ulcerative colitis.
- Skin ulcers.
- Mouth sores.
- Swelling in joints can be a sign of ulcerative colitis.
Signs and Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis Based on Classification
Depending on the severity of inflammation and its location the symptoms of ulcerative colitis vary. Due to this, this condition is usually classified according to its location.
Depending on its classification, some of the signs and symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis are:
- Ulcerative Proctitis: This is the mildest form of Ulcerative Colitis. In this type, inflammation is limited to the regions which are closest to the anus/ rectum. In some patients, rectal bleeding is the only symptom of this disease; whereas, some may experience rectal pain and an urge to defecate.
- Proctosigmoiditis: In this type of ulcerative colitis the rectum and the lower end of the colon (sigmoid colon) are involved. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, pain and cramping in the abdomen, and not being able to have a bowel movement despite having an urge to do so.
- Left sided Colitis: In this type, inflammation continues from the rectum up to the sigmoid and descending colon. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, pain and cramping in the abdomen on the left side and unintentional weight loss.
- Pancolitis: This commonly affects the entire colon. Symptoms include spells of bloody diarrhea which can be severe, pain and cramping in the abdomen and substantial weight loss.
- Fulminant Colitis: This is a rare and a life-threatening form of ulcerative colitis. In this type, the entire colon gets affected and causes acute pain, profuse diarrhea and can also lead to dehydration and shock. Patients are at a risk for serious complications such as rupturing of the colon and toxic mega colon, where the colon expands rapidly.
When to see a doctor for Ulcerative Colitis?
If you feel any trouble with your digestive system or bowel movement or any of the following symptoms, you must immediately refer to your doctor.
- Pain in abdomen.
- Stool with traces of blood.
- Any case of diarrhea that cannot be treated with normal medications.
- An urge to empty your colon when you are asleep due to diarrhea.
- Unusual fever that can last for more than a couple of days.
Ulcerative colitis is most cases is not categorized as fatal disease but must be taken seriously as it can very quickly result into life-threatening complications.