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    What Is Ulcerative Colitis?


    Your doctor will use different tests to tell if you have UC instead of another gut disease.

    Blood tests can show if you have anemia or an infection.

    Stool sample tests can help your doctor rule out an infection or parasite in your colon. They can also show if there is blood in your stool that you can’t see.

    Flexible sigmoidoscopy lets a doctor look at the lower part of your colon. He will put a bendable tube into your lower colon through your bottom. The tube has a small light and camera on the end. Your doctor might also use a small tool to take a piece of the lining of your lower colon. This is called a biopsy. A specialist will look at the sample under a microscope.

    Colonoscopy is the same process as flexible sigmoidoscopy, only your doctor will look at your whole colon, not just the lower part. He may spray a blue dye inside your colon during a colonoscopy. This is called chromoendoscopy, and it lets him see which parts are affected by UC.

    X-rays are less common for diagnosing the disease, but your doctor may want you to have one in special cases.


    UC treatment has two main goals. The first is to ease your symptoms and give your colon a chance to heal. The second is to prevent more flare-ups. You may need a mix of diet changes, medication, or surgery to reach those goals.

    Diet. Food doesn’t cause ulcerative colitis, but some types can make your symptoms worse. You might find that soft, bland food doesn’t bother you as much as spicy or high-fiber dishes. If you can’t digest the sugar in milk called lactose (meaning you’re lactose intolerant), your doctor may tell you to avoid dairy products. To make sure you get enough vitamins and nutrients from your meals and snacks, your doctor may recommend a high-protein, high-calorie eating plan that is low in fiber.

    Medicine. Your doctor may prescribe a few different kinds of drugs, including:

    • Antibiotics to fight infections and let your large intestine heal
    • Medicine to lower inflammation in your colon and control your symptoms. You may start by taking one type, called aminosalicylates. If those don’t work or your symptoms are more severe, your doctor may prescribe another type of anti-inflammatory drug, a corticosteroid.
    • Meds to help stop your immune system’s attack on your colon
    • Biologics are drugs made from proteins in living cells instead of chemicals. They are for people with very severe ulcerative colitis.

    Surgery. If other treatments don’t work or your UC is severe, you might need surgery to remove your colon (colectomy).

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on February 04, 2016
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