Ulcerative Colitis Explained

Ulcerative Colitis is an incurable autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the large intestine.

A person gets Ulcerative Colitis when the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the large intestine.

This leads to long-term changes in the chemical makeup of the tissue lining the tract, causing ulcers, open sores, bleeding and an urgent need to go to the bathroom.

The area which is affected and causes irritation expands with time; it then begins to get worse leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, frequent diarrhea, vomiting and constant weight loss.

There are currently treatments for Ulcerative Colitis, but if your symptoms are severe, you should see your doctor about getting a colonoscopy.


Crohn’s Disease Explained

Crohn’s disease, also referred to as Crohn’s ileitis, is an autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

This can affect any part of the digestive tract and can even affect major organs.

It is typically diagnosed between the ages of 15-50 and is one of two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) alongside ulcerative colitis.

The severity of symptoms that attack sufferers will change over time, with periods of remission allowing them to work and have a normal existence.

Unfortunately, Crohn’s disease has no cure meaning long term medication and specialized diets are often required for this condition to be kept in check.

The type of treatment should be determined by the symptoms caused by the inflammation and how long the symptoms have existed.






Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

A patient with ulcerative colitis frequently experiences two different types of symptoms:

– Problematic periods or flare-ups

– Symptom-free episodes or remissions

Because the symptoms differ from case to case, it is often treated differently based on the kind of episodes a patient is having at the time.

In general, regardless of the symptoms, ulcerative colitis patients may also experience the following symptoms:

– Mouth ulcers

– Eye infections

– Arthritis

– Skin problems

– Blood clots

– Lactose intolerance

– Metabolic disorders


The Most Frequent Symptoms Are as Follows:

  • Pain in the gut
  • Diarrhea accompanying bleeding
  • Lethargy (fatigue)
  • Malnutrition
  • Appetite loss
  • Rectal hemorrhage
  • Body fluids and nutrients depletion
  • Blood loss (anemia) as a result of severe hemorrhage

Symptoms Including the Following May Also Occur in Certain Cases:

  • Skin infections
  • Rashes
  • Joint inflammation
  • Osteoporosis
  • Redness and swelling in the eye(s)
  • Disorders of the liver
  • Kidney stones

The causes of ulcerative colitis are unknown, but it’s thought to stem from an abnormal immune reaction in the digestive system.

Some people who develop ulcerative colitis will have mild symptoms or have them come and go over a long period of time.

But for other sufferers the symptoms can be more severe leading to hospitalization due to bowel spasms and massive attacks of diarrhea making everyday life very difficult.

Crohn’s Disease Symptoms

The Main symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:


  • Diarrhoea
  • Mouth Sores
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Reduced appetite and Weight Loss
  • Arthritis
  • Anal Pain and Stool Blood
  • Fatigue

It’s important to pay attention to these symptoms and to visit a doctor or physician if they persist.

If you suspect that you have Crohn’s disease, you need to see a physician.

The person experiences diarrhea for a minimum of six weeks per year.

You should always pay attention to these symptoms and visit a doctor or physician if they persist.




It’s important to pay attention to these symptoms and to visit a doctor or physician if they persist.

If you suspect that you have Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis, you need to see a physician.

You should always pay attention to these symptoms and visit a doctor or physician if they persist.


How to Diagnose Ulcerative Colitis

Endoscopic examinations are the way to get a definitive diagnosis for ulcerative colitis and find out about complications or other forms of inflammatory bowel disease.

To confirm a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, you may have one or more of the following tests: 

Blood Test

Blood tests are a very effective and efficient way to find out if a person as anemia. Most commonly, it is used to see if a person has a problem with hemoglobin.

Stool Studies
A stool study is an analysis of the cells present in the stool. Certain proteins or white blood cells may suggest a doctor to have colitis.

A colonoscopy is the most common examination to receive when you suspect serious issues with your internal organs.
This procedure also allows your doctor to view every inch of your colon, this tissue is then biopsied while they are inside your body, and having a tissue sample is critical in making the correct diagnosis.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
In the case of already inflamed colons, your doctor might use a flexible sigmoidoscopy to examine the lower colon rather than performing a full colonoscopy.

Other ways of testing:

·       CT Scan

·       X-ray

How to Diagnose Crohn’s Disease

There’s no single diagnostic test for Crohn’s disease.

Your doctor will most likely use a combination of tests to help confirm a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease can be difficult to diagnose because it can mimic other conditions which has to resort to elimination of other diseases based on other symptoms.

Recent studies suggest that about one third of people with Crohn’s disease don’t know they have it.

There are three tests that are reliable at diagnosing Crohn’s disease:

·      Endoscopy

·      Biopsy

·      Blood test

Endoscopy involves examining the lining of the intestine (the ileum) using a small tube with a camera attached.



Treatment Options


Treatment Available for Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the large intestine.
It can lead to increased urgency, diarrhea, pain, and loss of appetite.

The most common symptom of ulcerative colitis is rectal bleeding.

The cause of ulcerative colitis is usually unknown, but it can be triggered by certain foods or medications.

It can also occur within first-degree relatives of someone who has the condition. There are many different treatments for ulcerative colitis.

Treatment might involve avoiding some foods, using medications, learning more about the condition, and moving around more.

Treatment Available for Crohn’s Disease

No treatment works for everyone with Crohn’s disease.

The goals of treatment are to keep the inflammation down in the intestines, prevent flare-ups of symptoms and keep you well.

Several kinds of medications are available to treat Crohn’s disease.

Antidiarrheal and anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used.

These include biologic medications, which use the body’s immune system to treat the disease.




There is no cure for ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease and patients will usually be required to take life-long treatment.

The symptoms may become less severe in some patients, however, but the condition can often flare up at any point.

It’s important to explore the many complementary therapies out there that can assist with Crohn’s and UC.

Too much emphasis is put on just diet and medication when there are other ways that can improve your symptoms and health.

As with any chronic illness, you will require to stay on top of your health, with the assistance of a qualified medical practitioner to guide you, at all times.

To learn more about our practice and how we can assist you on this journey to gut health, contact us here.

If you’d like to take part in a clinical trial, join us here:

Apply for Crohn’s Disease Trial

Apply for Ulcerative Colitis Trial


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Future treatments are now one step closer. 

Contact us

Spoke Research Inc
Mediclinic Milnerton,
Suite 109
Racecourse Rd, Milnerton
Cape Town


Mon – Thurs: 08:00-15:00
Fri: 08:00-12:00
Sat: Closed


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