Ulcerative Colitis in Kansas City, MO

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Ulcerative colitis is an individual part of a much larger grouping of conditions referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This condition causes irritating inflammation and ulcerations inside one's gastrointestinal (GI) tract, most often the colon. Ulcerative colitis is different from Crohn's disease (the alternate form of IBD), as it is restricted only to one's colon. Crohn's disease, alternately, is typically experienced near the end of the small bowel and beginning of one's colon, but can affect any portion of the gastrointestinal tract from the anus to the mouth. Additionally, ulcerative colitis only involves the inner lining of the colon, whereas Crohn’s disease could affect the entirety of the bowel wall.

Those who have the challenges of suffering with ulcerative colitis many times deal with painful gastrointestinal symptoms that interfere with their everyday lives. At Digestive Health Specialists, our board-certified gastroenterologists regularly identify and treat ulcerative colitis, and collaborate with patients to assist in providing relief from its symptoms. If you need help with ulcerative colitis in Kansas City, MO, we implore you to reach out to our practice today.

There are quite a few varying classifications of ulcerative colitis that are usually organized by anatomy:

Ulcerative proctitis: The inflammation of a person's colon is contained within one's rectum and is usually the mildest variety of ulcerative colitis. An often-recognized indication of having ulcerative proctitis is rectal bleeding.

Left-sided colitis: Swelling is more widely found throughout the colon and might impact areas beyond the rectum but is restrained to all or part of the sigmoid and descending colon. It commonly presents with upsetting symptoms, some of which could include diarrhea containing blood and unintended weight loss.

Pancolitis: This type of ulcerative colitis is also known as extensive colitis and may involve the whole of the colon. Symptoms may include serious bloody diarrhea, extreme pain in the abdomen, and tiredness.

Acute severe ulcerative colitis: This is a more unusual variety of ulcerative colitis that affects the whole of the colon. Its symptoms could include severe pain and the loss of the ability to eat. The condition usually requires hospitalization and carries a much greater chance of surgery.

The specific cause of ulcerative colitis remains a mystery. However, we have identified certain factors that seem to heighten the presentation of ulcerative colitis and its related challenges.

  • Genetics: One may inherit genetic material from your parents that elevate the chance of being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
  • Immune system: It is presumed that internal bacteria or viruses may trigger the occurrence of ulcerative colitis. In the event that bacteria or a virus enters one's digestive tract, your body activates your immune system to defend against the bacteria or virus. When this occurs, the body releases white blood cells to the colon and those cells then attack healthy tissue and cells. Because of this, your colon or large intestine becomes inflamed.

What are the risk factors for ulcerative colitis?

Some of the complicating factors related to suffering from ulcerative colitis include:

  • Age: Ulcerative colitis typically develops before 30 years of age.
  • Ethnicity or race: People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and Caucasians are at higher likelihood of suffering from ulcerative colitis; however, the condition may affect any race.
  • Family history: If a family member suffers from ulcerative colitis, you may have a more pronounced chance of developing the disease.

What are the common symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

Many symptoms common to ulcerative colitis come to appear gradually and can vary from mild to severe. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis often include:

  • Fever
  • Stomach cramps
  • Normal menstrual cycle disruption
  • Pain or drainage near or around the anus
  • Rectal pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea with pus or blood
  • Mouth sores
  • Sudden loss of weight
  • Constipation
  • Bloody stool

Should you ever see blood in your stool, please reach out to your doctor or another specialist in Kansas City, MO promptly. A gastroenterologist should be seen if you suffer from any of the above-listed symptoms or any combination of symptoms on a persistent basis. The board-certified gastroenterologists at Digestive Health Specialists can provide specialized care for ulcerative colitis and can help treat and manage these problems.

The ultimate objectives of ulcerative colitis treatments at Digestive Health Specialists are to minimize the swelling that initiates the symptoms and thereby enter into remission of the disease. Subsequent treatment includes but is not limited to screening for cancer, due to the fact that having ulcerative colitis positions you at higher risk for later suffering from colon cancer. The main divisions of ulcerative colitis treatments are as follows:

Antibiotics: Antibiotics have been shown to assist in the destruction of bacteria connected with causing the unusual immune system response that is the cause of inflammation. Antibiotics are not a primary form of treatment but could be administered in coordination with additional treatments.

Anti-inflammatory drugs: Anti-inflammatory medications used to manage ulcerative colitis are oral 5-aminosalicylates and corticosteroids. Corticosteroids assist in the reduction of swelling in the body and may be given along with immune system suppressants. Oral 5-aminosalicylates are also useful in the reduction of swelling in your body.

Additional supplements and medications may be suggested to assist in the control and management of ulcerative colitis symptoms. These could include:

  • Anti-diarrheals
  • Vitamin D and calcium supplementation
  • Vitamin B-12 shots
  • Iron supplements

Long-term anti-inflammatory therapies: These therapies address the body’s irregular immune response to bacteria and viruses. The immunosuppressant meds your Kansas City, MO gastroenterologist could prescribe include:

  • Azathioprine
  • Tofacitinib
  • Natalizumab
  • Infliximab
  • Methotrexate
  • Adalimumab
  • Ustekinumab
  • Certolizumab
  • Vedolizumab

Diet and nutrition: Your gastrointestinal doctor may recommend a specific diet to help relieve symptoms and encourage remission.

Surgery: In extreme cases, surgery may be indicated to remove a portion of, or the entirety of, the rectum or colon.

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Can ulcerative colitis go away?

At this time, no cure has been identified for this disorder. Medication can be used to help control the condition and its associated symptoms. It is important to note that medication will not resolve the condition. It can, however, help you reach and remain in remission.

Is ulcerative colitis caused by the food I eat?

A link between food consumption and a direct cause of this GI disorder hasn’t been found. However, certain diets have been connected to an increased risk of getting ulcerative colitis. These diets often include foods that are high in sugar, fats, and refined carbs and low in fruits, vegetables, and fiber.

Who is qualified to diagnose ulcerative colitis?

It’s likely that your GI issues will result in a visit to your primary care provider. However, if your physician suspects you may have ulcerative colitis, they will likely suggest you see a gastrointestinal provider, like those at Digestive Health Specialists. It is helpful to consult a team that focuses on the digestive system.

Can anything help me reach and stay in remission from ulcerative colitis?

In the event you’ve reached remission for ulcerative colitis, you most likely want to do anything to remain there. Factors to remember during remission include:

  • Stress level: Stress may lead to a flare-up. A good night's sleep, regularly exercising, and working on your stress management could minimize your chances of a flare-up.
  • Medications: For fever or pain, you may consider taking acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) instead of Motrin® or Advil® (NSAIDs) since acetaminophen shouldn’t trigger symptoms. Talk with your physician for more information.
  • Medication change: If your current medications are resulting in GI issues, get in touch with our team. We may want to swap it out for a medication less likely to cause a flare-up.

Ulcerative colitis has the ability to take a toll on your overarching comfort and digestive well-being. With experienced treatment, however, you can manage the condition and enhance your quality of life. No matter if you are experiencing the very first symptoms or managing ulcerative colitis issues post-remission, the GI specialists at Digestive Health Specialists can offer you personalized treatment options to help you find relief. To consult a doctor who offers treatment for ulcerative colitis in Kansas City, MO, please reach out to our team as soon as possible.

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