Confused by ulcerative colitis (UC)? No surprise there; it can be a bewildering disease, sometimes easily confused with other gastrointestinal troubles. On top of that, symptoms can disappear for months or even years, then return for no apparent reason. New treatments and strategies, though, can help you take control. Test your UC smarts: Are the following statements true or false?
Crohn’s disease is also an inflammatory bowel disease with similar symptoms, but it can affect any part of the digestive tract. Irritable bowel syndrome is not an inflammatory bowel disease. It is a milder disorder without damage or inflammation of the intestinal lining.
2. You are more likely to develop UC if a close relative has it.
True or False
True. Ulcerative colitis doesn’t always run in families, but genetics might play a role. Statistics vary, but studies show that about 10% to 30% of people with UC have at least one close family member with it. Ashkenazi Jews are also slightly more likely to develop the disease.
3. Ulcerative colitis is easy to diagnose. A doctor can tell if you have it simply by carefully listening to you describe your symptoms.
True or False
False. Since other digestive diseases or an infection can cause similar symptoms, diagnosing UC is a multistep process that starts with a physical exam and a series of tests, which usually includes blood tests and a stool sample. These are followed by an evaluation of the colon using one of two tests, a sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy.
4. There is no cure for UC. If you have it, you must learn to live with it.