An inflammatory bowel disease that results in irritation, swelling and ulcer in the rectum and spreads to the colon is known as colon ulcer. The medical terminology for this health condition is ulcerative colitis. Several continuous or recurrent symptoms of ulcerative colitis include sudden weight loss, anaemia, diarrhoea, bloody stools with pus, skin sores, abdominal pain, etc. There is no definite treatment for colon ulcers. But some certain treatments and medications can help alleviate the symptoms like inflammation, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, etc. Also, there are surgical procedures that can help with more severe cases.
The colon is essentially the large intestine. It, along with the rectum, gets inflicted with ulcers and inflammation. That’s why this medical condition is classified under the group of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These symptoms and issues affect a patient’s bowel movement habits. For example, they might have to wake up multiple times to go to the bathroom. It starts typically around your rectum, close to the anus. Then slowly reaches the bottom part of the colon. That’s when the issue is called ulcerative proctitis. Limited or distal colitis is when the issue is just around the left part of the colon, and Pancolitis is when the whole colon is affected by inflammatory sores.
The severity of ulcers differs from patient to patient. It depends upon the extent of inflammatory sores and where they have happened. You could either have a mild case of sores around a larger area like the rectum or have a chronic and severe case of sores around a relatively smaller area like the rectum.
In over 50% of the total cases, the patients only suffer from the milder symptoms of colon ulcers. While others frequently experience bloody stools, abdominal pains due to cramps, high fever, nausea, etc., along with inflammation in the eyes, osteoporosis, arthritis and liver issues for some people. According to the experts, the symptoms exhibited by the patients suffering from colon ulcers happen outside the colon due to a defence mechanism of the immune system.
Symptoms of the colon ulcer depend upon the type of ulcerative colitis. Here are the four types of this medical condition:
- Proctosigmoiditis: In this type of colon ulcer, the infected parts involve the lower part of the colon and the rectum. A few symptoms are abdominal pain due to cramps, tenesmus (irregular bowel habits), bloody stools, etc.
- Pancolitis: Pancolitis results in an inflammatory sore on the entire colon. The common symptoms in this type of ulcerative colitis frequently include bloody stools, fever, fatigue, sudden weight loss, abdominal pain, etc.
- Ulcerative Proctitis: In this type of colon ulcer, the infection is limited to the rectum. Rectal bleeding is the only indication of ulcerative proctitis.
- Left-sided Colitis: As the name suggests, the infection is limited to the left side of the colon. The symptoms include abdominal pain due to cramping and frequent bowel movements, along with bloody stools.
The symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain due to cramps
- Rectal bleeding - you will have blood in your stool quite frequently
- Not being able to pass the bowel movement when needed
- Slower growth (in children)
- Pain in the rectum
- Sudden weight loss
- High fever
You won’t have to worry in case of mild symptoms. But there are certain signs for when you might require the urgent assistance of a doctor. Some of them are:
- Bloody stool
- Frequent diarrhoea at night
- Pain in the abdomen area
- OTC medications being no help for diarrhoea
- High fever
Although colon ulcers are not life-threatening on themselves, they can cause certain medical complications that might result in lethal consequences. So consult with the doctor if you have these symptoms, as they might cause other illnesses.
The experts have not been able to determine the exact cause of colon ulcers. Although dietary habits and stress causing factors were initially believed to be the primary causes, they are only aggravating the symptoms.
As mentioned earlier, this affliction might result from the immune system trying to fight off a particular virus or bacteria. But, instead, the system attacks the healthy cells in the digestive system.
Here are a few of the risk factors that might be the reason behind your suffering caused by colon ulcers:
- Ethnicity: Although anyone of any race can suffer from ulcerative colitis, people of white ethnicity are more at risk. To be precise, you are in an even higher risk group if you are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
- Age: Although you can have this medical condition at any age, it usually originates before the age of 30. Certain patients start experiencing the symptoms after the age of 60.
- Family History: The risk of having colon ulcers would be higher if you have a family member who suffers from this medical condition. That includes a child, sibling, parent or grandparent, etc., afflicted with this disease.
These risk factors will increase the chances of you having this medical condition. If you get affected by this disease, it might result in other complications, including:
- Perforated Colon
- More chances of having colon or colorectal cancer
- More chances of clotting in the blood vessels
- Profuse bleeding
- Severe dehydration
- Irritation and swelling in the joints, eyes and on your skin
- Swelling on the colon
Getting afflicted with these complications is one of the reasons why you should consult with your doctor immediately when you start experiencing the symptoms of ulcerative colitis or colon ulcers.
There is only one way to diagnose colon ulcers effectively and accurately, endoscopic procedure along with a tissue biopsy. The symptoms can be due to certain other illnesses like Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases. So the other tests help the doctor rule out any other medical condition that can result in those symptoms.
1. Pathology tests
- Stool sample study: Your stool sample is studied for the indications of colon ulcers with the help of white blood cells and certain other proteins.
- Blood Test: The symptoms could be due to anaemia. So the blood test is used by the doctor to rule it out. If there are not enough red blood cells for the transmission of oxygen, it would indicate anaemia.
2. Endoscopic Procedure:
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: In this procedure, the doctor uses a lighted, flexible tube to examine the condition of the sigmoid colon (lower part of the colon). It is used in case of the patient experiences inflammation in the colon.
- Colonoscopy: It is similar to the procedure mentioned above, except that it examines the entire colon. The doctor also performs a biopsy on the sample tissues.
3. Imaging Techniques:
- CT Scan: A computerised tomography scan or CT scan is a good way for the doctor to determine the existence of colon ulcers in your digestive tract. It can also help in checking the extent of this disease.
- X-Ray: X-rays may help your doctor check if you have any further complications due to ulcerative colitis, like a perforated colon.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): An MRI might be recommended if you experience any inflammation in your small intestine. It is more sensitive to detecting inflammation in the colon than other imaging tests like CT scans. It is a popular non-invasive and radiation-free imaging test for detecting ulcerative colitis.
Performing these tests will help your doctor check if you have a colon ulcer (if you do, to what extent). They will also be able to determine the correct treatment procedure for alleviation of the symptoms effectively.
Homeopathy is a practical alternative medical science that alleviates the symptoms of an illness using natural remedies. For example, it can be highly effective in providing relief in case of ulcerative colitis or colon ulcers. Homeopathy tries to reach the root cause of the medical condition and its symptoms and eliminate it. As mentioned earlier, this condition can be due to the immune system attacking the healthy cells. So homeopathic medications can also help you improve your immune system.
Although conventional medications can be effective, they could render you to be dependent on them. But the homeopathic medicines are pretty effective and moderative in that aspect. Additionally, as they are made from natural ingredients, homeopathic remedies are practically free of side effects.
Along with the treatment, you can also focus on dietary habits to prevent or better the condition. Dairy foods are considered a good option as they are abundant in calcium and protein (if the patient is not lactose intolerant). A few food items that you might want to avoid during the treatment for ulcerative colitis include highly spicy food, fatty and oily food, alcoholic drinks and cold drinks, sugar and sweets, etc.
If you are looking to find more about colon ulcers and their treatment options, you might want to consult the doctor. It might induce other complications if not treated in time.