What Is Ulcerative Colitis?


Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

It causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers (sores) in your digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum.

Most often, ulcerative colitis starts gradually and gets worse over time.

However, it may also come on suddenly and be severe from the start.

Inflammation usually occurs in the rectum and lower part of the colon, but it can affect the entire colon.

Ulcerative colitis is different from another common IBD, Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of your digestive tract.

Ulcerative Colitis causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, fever, and weight loss to mention a few. Other symptoms such as aphthous ulcers (sores inside the mouth or on the rectum) and joint pains caused by inflammation in the body can also occur.

Doctors often diagnose Ulcerative Colitis with a colonoscopy – which involves inserting a long tube with a small camera at its end into your rectum to visualise your colon.

Treatment is often handled on a case-by-case basis because there isn’t one cure for this condition that works for everyone.

Usually though, anti-inflammatory drugs such as and steroids are used to reduce ulcer frequencies in short term management, and amino salicylates are used in the short and long term.

Immunomodulators as well as biologics may be used in the long term.

Treatments also involve lifestyle changes such as stress reduction techniques and regular exercise programs in order to try and lower chances.

In this article you can learn more about the factors that determine the severity of the condition, signs, and symptoms of ulcerative colitis in children and treatment options.


What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?

The exact cause for this condition is unknown.  There is a genetic component to the aetiology.

Although there is no known cure for this disease yet, treatment options can help reduce symptoms and make it easier for individuals to manage their health independently.


Ulcerative Colitis in Children


While adults have ulcerative colitis, the symptoms and severity of ulcerative colitis in children can differ from that seen in adults.

Parents of young children with undiagnosed ulcerative colitis frequently describe their child as being in pain, which causes the child to be irritable, moody, and to have no interest in eating or playing.

There are some important differences that need to be considered when managing UC in children.

A common symptom of UC in children is abdominal pain.  This pain is typically crampy and may be associated with nausea and vomiting.

Diarrhea is also a common symptom and may be bloody.

Children may also experience weight loss, fever, and anemia, fatigue joint pain and skin rashes and failure to thrive.


What Are the Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis in Children?


Most parents are familiar with the common childhood illnesses like the common colds or chickenpox.

But there are other, less common illnesses that can be serious. Ulcerative colitis is one of these illnesses.

It is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the digestive system.

The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis in children are:

  • Stomach pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Bloody diarrhea 
  • Weight Loss 
  • Loss of Appetite 
  • Rectal Bleeding 
  • Anemia caused by severe bleeding 
  • Failure to thrive

In some children the following symptoms appear:

  • Skin sores
  • Kidney Stones
  • Liver problems
  • Inflammation of the eyes

Should your child experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms it is advisable to seek medical assistance.


How Is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed in Children?

Ulcerative colitis is diagnosed in children by a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests.

The child’s medical history is important in ruling out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

The physical examination can help to identify any abnormalities in the child’s abdomen.
Diagnostic tests, such as a colonoscopy, can help to confirm the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis.

Stool Sample  
A stool sample can be checked to rule out other causes of bloody diarrhea such as infection.

A colonoscopy is a test that is used to look for ulcers in the colon.

The test is performed by inserting a camera into the rectum and then slowly moving it up through the colon.

The camera gives the doctor a clear view of the inside of the colon and can help to identify any ulcers that may be present.



How Is Ulcerative Colitis Treated in Children?

There are a variety of treatments for ulcerative colitis in children, which can be determined by the severity of the disease.

In some cases, medications may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation.

In the most severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the affected portion of the intestine.

Keeping an eye on a good diet is also a great way to have your child’s ulcerative colitis under control and avoiding flare-ups.

An ulcerative colitis diet is a diet that is designed to help manage the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

This type of diet may include avoiding trigger foods, eating smaller meals more frequently, and getting adequate rest and exercise.

It is important to work with an experienced gastroenterologist who is familiar with UC in children.

Secondly, because UC is a chronic disease, it is important to focus on both symptom management and long-term prevention of flares.

Finally, it is important to consider the child’s quality of life when making treatment decisions, as UC can have a significant impact on daily life.



Chat to the Experts

Although ulcerative colitis in children is relatively rare, it is a serious condition that can have a significant impact on the child’s quality of life.

It is important to be aware of the symptoms and to seek medical help if you suspect that your child may have the condition.

With early diagnosis and treatment, most children with ulcerative colitis can manage their condition and enjoy a good quality of life.

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, always.

Dr Gosia George and Dr Eduan Deetlefs are clinical investigators at Spoke Research Inc and became involved in Clinical Research in 2017, and now run the Inflammatory Bowel Disease trials.

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

We are here to provide you with expert medical advice in the field of clinical research with years of experience.

Contact us to find out more on clinical trials and treatment.


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