Ulcerative Colitis in Houston, TX

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Ulcerative colitis is one in a group of conditions collectively referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The condition causes uncomfortable swelling and ulcerations inside your intestinal tract, most often the colon. Ulcerative colitis is different from Crohn's disease (the other form of IBD), as it is restricted to the colon. Crohn's disease, alternately, is usually experienced at the end of the small intestine and at the beginning of one's colon but has been known to impact any portion of the gastrointestinal system anywhere from the mouth to the anus. In addition, ulcerative colitis only involves the inner lining of the colon, whereas Crohn's disease might impact the whole of the bowel wall.

Those who have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis many times deal with uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms which interfere with their everyday lives. At Gastroenterology Consultants, our board-certified GI doctors regularly diagnose and treat ulcerative colitis, and collaborate with patients to assist in providing a reprieve from the symptoms it causes. If you need help for ulcerative colitis in Houston, TX, please reach out to our facility as soon as possible.

The form of ulcerative colitis you have is identified by its location in the colon. The different types of ulcerative colitis include:

Ulcerative proctitis: The inflammation of an individual's colon is confined to one's rectum and is commonly the mildest variety of ulcerative colitis. A common indication of the presence of ulcerative proctitis is bleeding from the rectum.

Left-sided colitis: Inflammation is more dispersed throughout the colon and can involve areas beyond than the rectum but is confined to all or a portion of the sigmoid and descending colon. It often presents with troubling symptoms, some of which could include diarrhea containing blood and unplanned loss of weight.

Pancolitis: This type of ulcerative colitis is also known as extensive colitis and can involve the entire colon. Symptoms may include severe diarrhea containing blood, severe pain in the abdomen, and fatigue.

Acute severe ulcerative colitis: This is a rare form of ulcerative colitis which affects the complete colon. Its symptoms may include extreme pain and the loss of ability to eat. This condition usually requires hospitalization and carries a much greater likelihood of surgery.

The exact reason for the development of ulcerative colitis is still unidentified. However, we know some specific variables which appear to increase the onset of ulcerative colitis and its related challenges.

  • Genetics: One may inherit genetic material from your parent or parents that increase your likelihood of being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
  • Immune system: It is presumed that internal bacteria or viruses may initiate the onset of ulcerative colitis. When bacteria or a virus becomes present in one's digestive tract, the body initiates your immune system to defend against the virus or bacteria. Anytime this occurs, the body directs white blood cells to the colon in which case they then attack non-problematic tissue and cells. Consequentially, your colon (or large intestine) is then inflamed.

The risk factors for developing ulcerative colitis include:

  • Age: Ulcerative colitis often presents prior to 30 years of age.
  • Family history: If a family member has ulcerative colitis, you have an elevated likelihood of suffering from the disease.
  • Race or ethnicity: Caucasians and people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent appear to be at higher likelihood of suffering from ulcerative colitis, but it can impact any ethnicity.

What are the typical symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

The majority of symptoms related to ulcerative colitis will manifest slowly over time, ranging from subtle to overwhelming. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis typically include:

  • Bloody stool
  • Pain or drainage near or around the anus
  • Mouth sores
  • Cramps in the stomach
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Rectal pain
  • Diarrhea with pus or blood
  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Fever

Should you ever become aware of blood in your stool, please make contact with your doctor or a specialist in Houston, TX right away. A gastroenterologist should be seen anytime you experience any of the above-listed symptoms or a combination of symptoms on a persistent basis. The board-certified gastroenterologists at Gastroenterology Consultants are here to offer you specialized care for ulcerative colitis and can help treat and manage these concerns

The providers at Gastroenterology Consultants treat ulcerative colitis with the goal of controlling the inflammation causing the symptoms and accomplishing remission of the disease. Additional treatment includes but is not limited to screening for cancer, due to the fact that having ulcerative colitis positions you at an elevated risk for later suffering from colon cancer. The primary divisions of ulcerative colitis treatments are as follows:

Antibiotics: Antibiotics can assist in the destruction of bacteria known to cause the unusual immune system reflex that leads to swelling. These are not a primary form of therapy but may be utilized in conjunction with additional treatments.

Anti-inflammatory drugs: Anti-inflammatory drugs utilized to treat ulcerative colitis are corticosteroids and oral 5-aminosalicylates. Corticosteroids help decrease inflammation in the body and can be administered in conjunction with immune system suppressants. Oral 5-aminosalicylates are also useful in the reduction of swelling in the body.

Additional supplements and medications may be recommended to control and manage ulcerative colitis difficulties. These might include:

  • Anti-diarrheals
  • Iron supplementation
  • Shots of vitamin B-12
  • Vitamin D and calcium supplementation

Long-term anti-inflammatory therapies: These therapies address the body's atypical immune response to viruses and bacteria. The immunosuppressant medications your Houston, TX gastroenterologist could prescribe include:

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

Diet and Nutrition: Your GI practitioner may suggest a unique diet to reduce symptoms and encourage remission.

Surgery: In serious situations, surgical intervention might be needed to excise a part of, or the entire, colon or rectum.

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Will ulcerative colitis go away?

Presently, there is no cure for this disease. Medicine can be used to help manage the condition and its symptoms, but it won’t resolve it. Medication can often help you achieve and remain in disease remission.

Is ulcerative colitis caused by the food I eat?

A connection between the food you eat and an immediate cause of this GI disorder has not been identified. However, certain diet choices have been linked to a higher risk of developing ulcerative colitis. This includes foods that are high in refined carbs, fats, and sugar and those low in fruits, vegetables, and fiber.

Who is able to diagnose ulcerative colitis?

It is likely that your troubles will cause you to make an appointment with your primary care practitioner (PCP). However, if your physician suspects ulcerative colitis, they will most likely refer you to a GI specialist, like the ones at Gastroenterology Consultants. It is important to visit a specialist that focuses on the GI tract.

What can help me reach and stay in remission?

In the event you’ve obtained remission for your ulcerative colitis, you most likely do anything you can to remain in remission. A few things to remember while you’re in remission are:

  • Stress: Stress may lead to symptoms coming back. Getting a good night’s sleep, regular exercise, and learning how to manage your stress might minimize your chances of further symptoms.
  • Medications: If you have fever or pain, you should consider using acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) rather than an NSAID like Motrin® or Advil® because acetaminophen shouldn’t exacerbate symptoms. Talk with your healthcare provider for further information.
  • Change in Medication: If you notice your medications are resulting in symptoms, get in touch with our team. We may be able to make a change in your medication for something less likely to lead to a flare-up.

Ulcerative colitis symptoms can negatively impact your overall comfort and digestive health. With experienced treatment, however, one can manage the situation and better their quality of life. No matter if you are experiencing the initial symptoms or controlling ulcerative colitis flare-ups post-remission, the GI specialists at Gastroenterology Consultants can provide you with individualized treatment options to help you find a reprieve. To find a doctor who offers treatment for ulcerative colitis in Houston, TX, please reach out to our facility today.

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