Ulcerative Colitis in Utah

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Ulcerative colitis is a condition that falls under the larger category of ailments referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This condition causes uncomfortable inflammation and ulcerations inside the gastrointestinal (GI) system, usually the colon. Ulcerative colitis is different from Crohn's disease (the other form of IBD), as it is limited to one's colon. Crohn's disease, conversely, is most commonly found near the end of the small intestine and beginning of the colon (but has been known to affect any portion of the intestinal system from the anus to the mouth). Also, ulcerative colitis only involves the colon's inner lining, whereas Crohn’s disease can impact the whole of the intestinal wall.

People who have the challenges of suffering from ulcerative colitis commonly deal with uncomfortable GI troubles that interfere with their day-to-day lives. At Utah Gastroenterology, our board-certified gastroenterologists routinely identify and provide treatment for ulcerative colitis, collaborating with patients to assist in providing a reprieve from its symptoms. If you are seeking help for ulcerative colitis in Utah, please reach out to our office today.

Ulcerative colitis manifests in a few distinct forms based on where it occurs in the GI tract:

Ulcerative proctitis: The inflammation of the colon is isolated to a person's rectum and tends to be the mildest variety of ulcerative colitis. Rectal bleeding is one of the more common signs of ulcerative proctitis.

Left-sided colitis: Inflammation is more widespread throughout the colon and may involve more than the rectum but is limited to all or a portion of the sigmoid and descending colon. It commonly causes upsetting symptoms, including diarrhea containing blood and unplanned loss of weight.

Pancolitis: This type of ulcerative colitis is also known as extensive colitis and might impact the entirety of the colon. Symptoms may include severe diarrhea containing blood, extreme pain in the abdomen, and fatigue.

Acute severe ulcerative colitis: This is a less common variety of ulcerative colitis which affects the entire colon. Its symptoms might include serious pain and the inability to consume food. The condition usually demands hospitalization and carries an increased chance of surgery.

While the specific cause of ulcerative colitis is not known at this point, researchers have identified a few variables that seem to be linked to the condition and its symptoms:

  • Genetics: One can inherit genetic material from one's parents which elevates their risk of developing ulcerative colitis.
  • Immune system: It is presumed that viruses or internal bacteria may initiate the occurrence of ulcerative colitis. Anytime a virus or bacteria enters the digestive tract, the body calls upon your immune system to engage the virus or bacteria. When this takes place, the body deploys white blood cells to the colon, where they then attack non-problematic cells and tissue. As a result, your colon (or large intestine) is then inflamed.

There are a few other complicating factors that may increase your chances of experiencing ulcerative colitis, including:

  • Ethnicity or race: People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and Caucasians are at an elevated risk of suffering from ulcerative colitis, nonetheless, it may affect any ethnicity.
  • Age: Ulcerative colitis most often develops prior to the age of 30.
  • Family history: If a relative has ulcerative colitis, you have a higher likelihood of suffering from this disease.


What are some typical symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis symptoms can range from mild to severe and will often develop over time. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis typically include:

  • Mouth sores
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Bloody diarrhea with pus
  • Fever
  • Rectal pain
  • Constipation
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Normal menstrual cycle disruption
  • Cramps in the stomach
  • Drainage or pain around or near the anus
  • Bloody stool

If you ever become aware of blood in your stool, we implore you to reach out to your doctor or another specialist in Utah without delay. A gastroenterologist should be seen should you experience any of the above-listed symptoms or any combination of symptoms on a recurring basis. The board-certified gastroenterologists at Utah Gastroenterology are here to offer you specialized care for ulcerative colitis and can assist in the treatment and management of these concerns

At Utah Gastroenterology, our providers treat ulcerative colitis with two primary goals: alleviate the underlying inflammation and then put the disease into remission. Subsequent treatment includes screening for cancer, as having ulcerative colitis positions you at an elevated risk for later suffering from colon cancer. The main categories of ulcerative colitis treatments are as follows:

Antibiotics: Antibiotics may help eliminate bacteria known to cause the excessive immune system reaction that is the cause of the swelling. These are not a primary form of treatment but can be utilized in collaboration with other therapies.

Anti-inflammatory drugs: Anti-inflammatory medications utilized to treat ulcerative colitis are oral 5-aminosalicylates and corticosteroids. Corticosteroids assist in the reduction of inflammation in the body and can be given in conjunction with immune system suppressors. Oral 5-aminosalicylates are also useful in the reduction of inflammation in your body.

Additional supplements and medications might be suggested to help ulcerative colitis symptoms. These may include:

  • Iron supplements
  • Anti-diarrheals
  • Calcium and vitamin D supplementation
  • Vitamin B-12 shots

Long-term anti-inflammatory therapies: This type of therapy addresses the body's atypical immune reaction to bacteria and viruses. The immunosuppressant medications your Utah gastroenterologist could prescribe include:

  • Tofacitinib
  • Methotrexate
  • Natalizumab
  • Azathioprine
  • Vedolizumab
  • Certolizumab
  • Ustekinumab
  • Infliximab
  • Adalimumab

Nutrition and diet: Your GI practitioner may recommend a special food plan to help reduce symptoms and aid in inducing remission.

Surgery: In extreme circumstances, surgery may be required to remove a piece of, or the entire, colon or rectum.

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Can ulcerative colitis be cured?

Presently, there is no cure for this disorder. Medication interventions can help manage ulcerative colitis and its associated symptoms but cannot resolve the condition. Medication can also help patients achieve and remain in disease remission.

Is ulcerative colitis caused by the food I eat?

A connection between food as a direct cause of this GI disease has not been identified. However, certain diets may be related to an increased risk of developing the condition. This includes foods high in refined carbs, fats, and sugar and diets low in fruits, veggies, and fiber.

Who can diagnose and treat ulcerative colitis?

Your symptoms will probably result in a visit to your primary doctor. If your doctor thinks you may have ulcerative colitis, they will likely suggest you see a digestive health specialist, like those at Utah Gastroenterology. It is important to consult a provider who focuses on the digestive tract.

Can anything help the disease stay in remission?

If you achieve remission for ulcerative colitis, you will likely wish to take steps to remain there. A few things to remember while in remission include:

  • Medication change: If your current medications seem to cause or increase your symptoms, please contact our GI team. We could potentially change your medication for one less likely to result in a flare-up.
  • Stress level: Stress can cause symptoms to return. Getting quality sleep, exercising regularly, and working on stress management can help reduce your chances of symptoms.
  • Medications: For pain or fever, taking acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) may be better than NSAIDs (like Motrin® or Advil®), as acetaminophen usually will not exacerbate symptoms. Speak with your doctor for further information.

Ulcerative colitis can have a serious adverse impact on your day-to-day comfort and overall health. With specialized treatment, however, you can take charge of the situation and enhance your quality of life. Regardless of if you are experiencing the beginning symptoms or controlling ulcerative colitis regression post-remission, the gastroenterologists at Utah Gastroenterology can provide you with individualized care options to help you find relief. To find a provider who offers care for ulcerative colitis in Utah, please call our team today.

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