The Spoke research team provides comprehensive care for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the form of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and related illnesses.

Our hope is for every patient to take an active, informed role in their journey to wellness and recovery.

We assist in this process by providing the resources and knowledge at every stage of your disease, from diagnosis to treatment.

Whether you are interested in participating in an IBD medical trial, or want to explore dietary changes, we will strive to help you meet your personal goals while making sure you’re receiving quality care so you can enjoy a better quality of life, one that is not interrupted by digestive trouble.


What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulcers to develop in the colon, also known as the large intestine.

It is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that is a chronic condition that requires ongoing medical management. Ulcerative colitis is a long-term (chronic) disease.

There are many types of colitis. The most common include:


Ulcerative Proctitis

This mild form type affects only the end of the colon or rectum.


Involves your rectum and the lower end of the colon (also referred to as sigmoid colon).

Left-sided colitis

This affects the rectum and the left side of the colon.


Pancolitis usually affects your whole colon.


Causes and Risk Factors

The exact causes of ulcerative colitis currently remains unknown. This disease affects about the same number of women and men. Possible risk factors may include:

  • Immune system malfunction
  • Family history
  • Environmental triggers geographic location, and being exposed to bacteria, toxins and chemicals
  • Most prevalent If you’re between 15 and 30 years old. However, some people may also develop the disease after 60


Symptoms ofUlcerative Colitis

Symptoms of colitis mostly depends upon the type of colitis a person has been diagnosed with, but generally, colitis is associated with:

  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Urgent bowel movements or diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Fever and chills
  • Skin rashes
  • Mouth sores
  • Joint pain and aches
  • Dehydration
  • A feeling like you haven’t completely emptied your colon after you use the bathroom
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Difficulty in defacating.

 ulcerative -colitis-diagnosis

Diagnosing Ulcerative Colitis


Blood Tests

Can detect if you have anemia (low red blood cells) or chronic inflammation. Sometimes blood tests can also help distinguish between ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Stool Tests

Can help your gastroenterologist rule out an infection or parasite in your colon by checking for white blood cells.

It can also help identify if there’s blood in your stool that you can’t see. Stool tests can also help in ruling out other disorders.


Allows your gastroenterologist to view your colon and check for abnormal growths or tissue that is bleeding or swollen.

It Involves inserting a thin flexible tube with a camera on the end into your rectum to examine it and also take tissue samples for laboratory analysis.

During colonoscopy, your doctor can also treat areas directly if its bleeding and also remove polyps.

Patients follow a special diet and take laxatives before the procedure to empty the bowels.


X-rays are not common for diagnosing colitis, but your GI may want to use it in rare cases to rule out other complications.

Upper Endoscopy

A procedure involving a flexible scope with a camera which is inserted through the mouth that lets Gastroenterologists see and take photos of the parts of the small intestine and take a biopsy if needed.


Ulcerative Colitis Treatment

UC treatment has two goals. The first is to help you feel better and give your colon a chance to recover.

The second is to prevent more symptoms by possible known causes. A strict diet, medication, and/or surgery may be recommended.

The type of treatment will depend on the stage and severity of the condition and a person’s general health and well-being.

A gastroenterologist will create a custom treatment plan for you based on:

  • Your age and current health status
  • How severe your symptoms are
  • How well your body handles medicines
  • If your condition has the potential to worsen
  • Your lifestyle habits and goals

Click here for more information on treatment.


There is no evidence approved meal plan to follow for ulcerative colitis.

The goal is to manage mild symptoms by not eating foods that has the potential to upset your intestines, which can be dairy products and foods high in fibre and spices.

Drinking water is also highly recommended to avoid dehydration, and instead of eating two or three large meals a day, its best to eat four to five small meals which can help reduce symptoms and flare-ups.

Many people keep a daily food diary which they find beneficial in identifying which foods cause triggers.



Anti-inflammatory medications are usually recommended to manage and control ulcerative colitis inflammation symptoms.

They are usually taken on a long-term basis or as recommended by your gastroenterologist.



Most people don’t require surgery.

Surgery is usually the last option and only recommended if you are at risk for cancer or your symptoms are severe and not getting any better even after lifestyle changes or medication.

Surgery might involve removing your colon.


Possible complications of ulcerative colitis can include:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Dehydration
  • A higher risk of colon cancer
  • Blood clots in your veins and arteries
  • Skin, joints and eyes inflammation
  • Blood in your stool

Seek immediate medical attention if you see a significant amount of blood in your stool or If you feel that something isn’t right with your stomach.



Ulcerative Colitis Frequently Asked Questions


What Condition Is Similar To Ulcerative Colitis?

UC falls in the type of IBD family and is closely related to another IBD disease called Crohn’s disease, which can also cause chronic inflammation.

Both Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are conditions that can last years to decades.

Does Stress Play a Role in Causing or Worsening Symptoms?

Stress has not been linked or shown any evidence of playing a role or being a risk factor for UC.

However, some people report flare-ups during times of stressful situations or strong emotions so its likely that stress may cause triggers.

How will this disease change my life?

UC can be challenging both emotionally, physically, socially, and professionally.

The best way to live with your disease is to learn to manage the triggers that might be causing them.

Many people live normal lives with this disease, often with the help of medical therapy.

Is a Person With Ulcerative Colitis at Risk for Colon Cancer?

Yes. Your colon cancer risk increases if you’ve been diagnosed with UC.

Ulcerative Colitis Can be Cured With Antibiotics. True or False?

False. There is currently no cure available and antibiotics can only help manage and control symptoms.

Smokers Are More Likely to Develop Ulcerative Colitis. Is This True?

False. There has been no link to suggest that people who smoke are at an increased risk for developing UC.

How Long Will IBD Last?

IBD is known to be a life-long condition. Although there is no cure for IBD, advances and research are being made in the field regularly.

Do I Have To Take Medicine Forever?

Since UC is a type of IBD condition which is chronic, its likely that you won’t stop your medication. Medication will help control flare-ups and ease symptoms.

Can I Still Get Pregnant and Have Children?

Yes, but its best to discuss your lifestyle goals with your gastroenterologist who will advise you on this.

For example, many women often take medication to control their IBD disease that can be harmful to your fetus.


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Contact us

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


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Fri: 08:00-12:00
Sat: Closed

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