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Ulcerative Colitis 101 (Video Transcript)

Ulcerative colitis is a relatively common inflammatory disease that interferes with the body’s digestive tract and affects more than half a million Americans nationwide.

Though the exact cause of the disease is unknown, ulcerative colitis is generally considered to be an autoimmune condition where the body’s natural defenses inadvertently attack normal, healthy tissues. The condition targets areas of the colon within the digestive system, producing small sores or ulcers as well as prolonged periods of inflammation. This damage to the inner lining of the colon can produce a variety of uncomfortable digestive problems, and, in rare cases, the disease can become debilitating.

Presently, there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, but there available treatments as well as are lifestyle changes that can help you remain symptom free for extended periods of time.

Your doctor will also likely prescribe medications to help you get your symptoms under control. Anti-inflammatory medications are a very common first step in treating ulcerative colitis.  Some forms of anti-inflammatories are designed to work directly on the damaged tissues of the colon. Immune suppressants are another option. These treatments are thought to block the underlying immune system reactions in ulcerative colitis. With many different options available, it is very common to have to try several different medications, or combinations, before you and your doctor find the treatment that works the best.

Following a healthy diet and identifying foods or beverages that aggravate your symptoms are also important in controlling ulcerative colitis. Some people find that high fiber foods can adversely affect their symptoms. Others make a point to avoid drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine. The effects of certain foods can vary dramatically from person to person, so it’s important to track the items that affect you and discuss these observations with your doctor.

Managing stress, anxiety, and depression are also crucial to keeping ulcerative colitis under control. Some proven ways to improve mood include exercise, meditation, or simply taking the time to connect with friends or family.

If you’d like to learn more about treating ulcerative colitis, take a look at the information we have here at Healthline or make an appointment with your doctor.