Ulcerative colitis is a condition that causes the inner lining of the large intestine
(colon) to get red and swollen with sores called ulcers. It's a chronic condition,
which means it lasts a long time or constantly comes and goes.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?
The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are cramping belly pain
and diarrhea. Other
blood in the toilet, on toilet paper, or in the stool (poop)
urgent need to poop
Ulcerative coliits can cause other problems, such as rashes, eye problems, joint
pain and arthritis, and liver disease. Kids with ulcerative colitis may not grow well
as well as other kids their age and puberty may happen later than normal.
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?
The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is not clear. It is probably a combination
of genetics, the immune system, and
something in the environment that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.
Diet and stress may make symptoms worse, but probably don't cause ulcerative colitis.
Who Gets Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis tends to run in families. But not everyone with ulcerative colitis
has a family history of BD. Ulcerative colitis can happen at any age, but is usually
diagnosed in teens and young adults.
How Is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed?
Ulcerative colitis is diagnosed with a combination of blood tests, stool tests,
and X-rays. Medical imaging tests, such as CT scans and MRIs, might be done too.
The doctor will check the stool for blood, and might look at the colon with an
instrument called an endoscope, a long, thin tube attached to
a TV monitor. In this procedure, called a colonoscopy, the tube is
inserted through the anus to let the doctor see inflammation, bleeding, or ulcers
on the wall of the colon. During the procedure, the doctor might do a biopsy
(taking small tissue samples for further testing).
How Is Ulcerative Colitis Treated?
Ulcerative colitis is treated with medicines and sometimes surgery. The goal of
treatment is to relieve symptoms, prevent other problems, and avoid flare-ups.
The doctor may recommend:
anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease the inflammation
immunosuppressive agents to prevent the immune system from causing further inflammation
biologic agents to block proteins that cause inflammation
Because some medicines make it harder to fight infections, it's important that
your child be tested for tuberculosis and have all the recommended
vaccines before starting
Surgery may be necessary if:
the bowel develops a hole
the bowel widens and swells up (called toxic megacolon)
the bleeding can't be stopped
symptoms don't respond to treatment
What Else Should I Know About Ulcerative Colitis?
Poor appetite, diarrhea, and poor digestion of nutrients can make it hard for people
with ulcerative colitis to get the calories and nutrients the body needs.
Kids and teens with ulcerative colitis should eat a variety of foods, get
plenty of fluids, and learn to avoid foods that make symptoms worse. Some may need
supplements, like calcium or vitamin
D. Kids who are not growing well may need additional nutrition support.
Kids and teens with ulcerative colitis can feel different and might not be able
to do the things their friends can do, especially during flare-ups. Some struggle
with a poor self-image, depression,
or anxiety. They may not
take their medicine or follow their diet. It's important to talk to your health care
professional if you're concerned about your child's mood, behavior, or school performance.