Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the rectum’s inner lining and the large intestine or colon.

Rather than a life-threatening disease, it is a chronic condition that must be managed for the rest of your life.

It is a severe illness that may lead to life-threatening consequences if not treated properly.
  

Facts About Ulcerative Colitis

 

Ulcerative colitis may first begin slowly, and its symptoms can become progressively severe.

However, in some cases, it just occurs suddenly. 

The severity of symptoms varies widely. Most individuals experience symptom-free periods, with flares alternating with symptom-free recovery periods.

Remission periods may span for weeks and years.

Treatment is given in order to maintain patients in remission for an extended period of time with a primary goal of providing patients a long-term recovery.

 

Symptoms & Causes of Ulcerative Colitis

 

While other people experience symptoms all the time, an individual with ulcerative colitis may experience symptoms intermittently.

One may have different symptoms if the inflammation is severe and occurs in various areas of the large intestine. 

Common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:  

  • Diarrhea with bloody mucus
  • Intense discomfort in the belly, particularly below the waist
  • A regular need to empty your bowels
  • Need to wake up and use the bathroom
  • Lack of energy
  • Severe anemia (anemia)

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Who Is at a Higher Risk of Developing Ulcerative Colitis? 

 

Several different factors contribute to an increased risk of ulcerative colitis, including diet and your way of life, and things that are completely out of your control, such as age and hereditary factors.  

A few of the main risk factors for the disease include:  

  • Genetics – a family history of ulcerative colitis indicates an increased risk for developing it.
  • Ethnicity – while Caucasians have the greatest risk of UC, it may occur in anybody regardless of color. The risk of UC among Ashkenazi Jews is much greater than in the general population.
  • Environment – reactions to toxins and microorganisms in the environment may initiate spontaneous inflammation in the gut.
  • Age – ulcerative colitis (UC) most often occurs in the 20s, although it may affect anybody at any age.
  • Diet & Lifestyle – increased intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids may lead to stomach problems.

Sedentism and smoking are also risk factors for general health, including gastrointestinal health. 
 

Treatment Options for Ulcerative Colitis

 

Ulcerative colitis is, unfortunately, incurable. However, it is possible to manage the condition’s effects and decrease its frequency of recurrence. 

Changes in your Lifestyle
Some foods may exacerbate the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

Foods that are often associated with triggers include red meat, dairy products, beverages that contain caffeine, fatty and spicy foods, alcohol, seasonings, artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners.  

Various studies have yet to ascertain foods that cause ulcerative colitis symptoms, but they have discovered that eating a healthy and balanced diet is linked with a lower chance of getting the condition. 

Medication
Doctors provide medications to manage the inflammation in the large intestine and allow for remission when their symptoms go away.  

Ulcerative colitis, which causes painful and bloody bowel movements, requires long-term medications unless it is treated with surgery to remove the colon and rectum. 

Aminosalisylates, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, biologics, and a new small molecule therapy are all the medications that are able to help with this condition.

Surgery
For patients suffering from severe pain, those with adverse reactions to medication, or people with severe cancer cases in their large intestine, surgery is an option.

To correct the colon and rectum problems, the surgeon will completely remove it, potentially up to his anus. However, it is a high-risk procedure so most consider this as a last resort. 

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Clinical Trials: A Quick Overview

 

Clinical trials are used to evaluate how well a treatment works, how tolerable it is, and the possible side effects of the treatment.  

These treatments or medical interventions that undergo clinical trials include medical devices, radiological procedures, surgical procedures, behavioral treatments, preventive care, cells and other biological products (like vaccines), and of course, drugs.  

It may take years of extensive clinical studies before treatment for ulcerative colitis can be approved and made accessible to doctors to prescribe to patients.

The US Food and Drug Administration has five rigorous stages in the drug development process: discovery and development, preclinical research, clinical research, the FDA drug review, and lastly, the FDA post-market drug safety monitoring. 

It is a long and tedious process that has no shortcut. 

The clinical research itself has a set of four phases according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Each phase will build upon the previous ones and will have to answer different questions about the new medication. 

 

  • Phase I – involves testing new drugs in a small group of people. This phase aims to assess the safe dosage range and determine any possible side effect.

  • Phase II – those that meet the safety criteria in Phase I will now move to the second phase and will be testing a bigger sample size for observation of adverse side effects.

  • Phase III – moving to this phase will include an even bigger sample size from different regions and countries. Good results in Phase III usually means the new treatment is approved.

  • Phase IV – the new treatment is approved, and further testing is conducted in a larger population over a longer period of time.
     

Clinical Trial Eligibility

 

Some studies may only recruit individuals with severe symptoms, whereas others may only enlist individuals with mild ulcerative colitis.

This will depend on the type of treatment that the clinical trial is testing for.

Eligibility criteria for recruiting studies may vary significantly.

A doctor may assist a patient to join a clinical trial by assessing participant eligibility and health implications or working with local or regional research teams. 

Remember that taking part in a clinical trial for ulcerative colitis does carry some risk. 

After all, it will be an experiment on a new treatment and the doctors and researchers will have no way of knowing how this new medication will affect you.

However, should you decide to sign up for one, the cost of your treatment may be reduced since the trial will most likely be sponsored. 

You may want to discuss this with your doctor before you start. You will also be helping medical researchers find new ways to treat ulcerative colitis. 

 

Questions To Ask Before Participating in a Clinical Study

Again, it’s very important that you understand the terms and conditions of the clinical trial.

There will be risks and there will be benefits. 

Prior to signing up, you may want to ask your doctor and the research team the following questions: 

  • How risky is the trial

  • What is the trial’s cost

  • Who is eligible

  • How does the experiment affect daily healthcare functions

  • Is there additional support during and after the trial

  • What do the researchers expect

  • What will the trial achieve  

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In Summary

 

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease that has no known origin or treatment – yet. Over time, it may cause significant disruption in your everyday activities. 

Keep in mind that most individuals who have ulcerative colitis still live a whole, joyful, and active life despite their condition.  

Ultimately, the main aim of treating ulcerative colitis is to assist individuals in properly regulating their immune systems. 

Changing your way of life combined with several treatment choices may help you control your condition and continue to live a happy and fulfilled life.  

In the case of ulcerative colitis, clinical studies are intended to evaluate the efficacy and safety of new or current treatment options for the illness.  

Click here if you would want to participate in an ulcerative colitis clinical study. 

 

 

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