Do you have diarrhoea with blood or pus?
Does your stomach ache include a cramping sensation?
Do you feel tired every day?
Do you have canker sores in your mouth and sores on your skin?
Our team is here to assist you…
If any of these questions apply to you, then there’s a chance you may have ulcerative colitis.
But don’t fret! Our team of qualified dietitians and nutritionists have helped many clients manage their ulcerative colitis successfully. We gave them sound nutritional advice, crafted a personalised dietary plan, and encouraged them to make specific lifestyle modifications so they can enjoy life to the fullest. We’re confident we can also help you get on track!
What Is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) of the large intestine or colon. Small sores known as ulcers produce pus and mucous in the lining of your colon. This causes pain in your abdomen and the urge to empty your bowels frequently.
Ulcerative colitis is the by-product of an autoimmune response where your immune system mistakenly perceives the food you digest, gut bacteria, and cells which line your colon as harmful invaders. Instead of protecting your body, your white blood cells attack the lining of your colon where these “intruders” are, resulting in ulcers and inflammation in your large intestine.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for ulcerative colitis yet. Affected individuals typically show symptoms on and off for the rest of their lives. But here’s the good news: the right treatment and lifestyle changes can help you manage the symptoms of ulcerative colitis more successfully.
What Are the Different Types of Ulcerative Colitis?
There are five different types of ulcerative colitis. Each type depends on its location in your body:
- Ulcerative proctitis: This is the mildest form of ulcerative colitis as it affects only your rectum. Normally, rectal bleeding is the only symptom of ulcerative proctitis.
- Proctosigmoiditis: This type of ulcerative colitis involves an inflammation in your rectum and the lower end of your colon. When you have proctosigmoiditis, you’ll experience pain, belly cramps, and bloody diarrhoea.
- Left-sided colitis: Here, you’ll experience cramping on the left side of your belly. Other symptoms include bloody diarrhoea, weight loss, and inflammation from your rectum to your colon’s left side.
- Pancolitis: This type of ulcerative colitis usually affects your entire colon. Symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, pain, belly cramps, and bloody diarrhoea.
- Acute severe ulcerative colitis: This is the rarest and most dangerous type of ulcerative colitis. It is a life-threatening condition that affects your entire colon. When you have acute severe ulcerative colitis, you typically experience severe diarrhoea, fever, bleeding, and intense pain.
What Are the Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?
Here are the most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis:
- Diarrhoea with blood or pus: Diarrhoea with blood or pus could mean you have ulcerative colitis.
People with a severe case of ulcerative colitis feel an intense urge to empty their bowels. This may occur at specific times or intervals during the day. For instance, you may feel the intense urge to go to the toilet after you eat.
This feeling of urgency to move your bowels can also be unpredictable. It can even wake you up in the middle of the night while you’re sleeping.
- Pain: If you’re diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, then there’s a big chance that you will feel a painful, cramping sensation in your belly. This pain can occur before or during bowel movements.
Aside from your belly, your joints and eyes may hurt as well. Affected individuals whose eyes hurt report the pain occurs when they look at bright lights.
- Fatigue: There are several underlying issues which cause severe fatigue in persons with ulcerative colitis:
- Nausea and loss of appetite which depletes your energy levels
- Swelling in the large intestine which impedes nutrient absorption
- Bleeding in the colon which lowers your red blood cell count
- Lack of sleep because of the increased frequency of bowel movements in the middle of the night
- Diarrhoea which results in dehydration
- Weight loss: Diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and nutrient malabsorption may result in weight loss.
- Sores: Canker sores in your mouth and skin rashes may appear if you have ulcerative colitis.
What Are the Causes of Ulcerative Colitis?
Several factors may cause ulcerative colitis:
- Genes: If you have ulcerative colitis, it’s possible that you may have inherited an abnormal gene from a family member.
- Immune system response: a faulty immune system response may cause ulcerative colitis. In this case, the inflammation of your large intestine persists long after it should’ve subsided. Your body also continues to send white blood cells to the lining of your intestines, which results in more ulcers and inflammation.
- Environment and lifestyle: A virus in your environment may cause ulcerative colitis. Use of painkillers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, and birth control pills may also increase your chances of getting the disease. A high-fat diet, stress, and emotional distress also have links to ulcerative colitis.
Is Ulcerative Colitis Hereditary?
Some cases of ulcerative colitis are hereditary in nature. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, the chances of getting ulcerative colitis are between 1.6 percent and 30 percent if you have a first-degree relative who has it.
How Do I Get Treated for Ulcerative Colitis?
There are several treatment options for ulcerative colitis:
- Medication: Medications for ulcerative colitis will suppress the inflammation in your large intestine, allowing it to heal. They can also minimise your diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and bleeding and extend periods of remission.
Among the common medicines for ulcerative colitis include 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA), corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, biologics, and janus kinase inhibitors (JAK inhibitors).
- Diet and nutrition: Specific food ingredients may help control the inflammation of your large intestine and manage your ulcerative colitis. These include linoleic acid (found in walnuts, olive oil, egg yolks, and coconut oil), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil), and probiotics (found in yoghurt). Some experts believe a low FODMAP diet may also help manage this inflammation.
- Surgery: Roughly 25 to 30 percent of ulcerative colitis patients require surgery because of complications or insufficiency of their medical therapy treatment. One surgical option involves removal of the large intestine and rectum along with the creation of an opening in the abdomen where your stool goes into a pouch latched onto the skin.
Another surgical procedure involves removal of the colon without the need for the patient to wear an external pouch. Here, the surgeon creates an internal pouch from the small bowel and latches it onto the anal sphincter muscle.
Our Experts Will Help You Manage Your Ulcerative Colitis
Our team can help you get the most out of your treatment for ulcerative colitis. We will work with you in developing a personalised nutrition and lifestyle plan to reduce the severity of your symptoms, boost your long-term health, and improve your quality of life. As authorities in the fields of gut and bowel conditions, diet, and nutrition, we are confident that we can help you manage your ulcerative colitis and other gut and bowel health issues.
Call us now at (07) 3071 7405 to schedule an appointment with any of our qualified nutritionists and dietitians.