Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that affects the digestive system, specifically the large intestine (colon). Around 100,000 people are living with the illness in the UK today and sufferers are usually aged between 15 and 30. Ulcerative colitis is where the colon becomes swollen and this inflammation can lead to ulcers. The ulcers can bleed, forming pus and mucus. At its worst, the condition can become pancolitis. This is where the entire colon is affected.
The symptoms that sufferers may develop are pain in the abdomen, bloody diarrhoea, weight loss, a frequent need to go to the loo and in some cases faecal incontinence. The symptoms can come and go; sometimes there can be breaks in the condition for years. The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown but there is suggestion that there may be genetic factors or links to the environment in which the sufferer lives.
If the symptoms are mild then the condition can be managed with various medications. In more serious cases surgery may be required to remove the part of the bowel which has been inflamed. The sufferer may have to use a colostomy bag. If the condition improves the colostomy bag may be removed.
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