Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is a chronic condition in which the large intestine (colon) becomes inflamed with sores (ulcers), resulting in diarrhea and bleeding. Ulcerative colitis typically affects the lower part of the colon and the rectum, but can affect the entire colon.
Another type of IBD is Crohn’s disease. The difference is that ulcerative colitis only affects the colon while Crohn's disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus.
Almonds are not necessarily good or bad for ulcerative colitis, however, they may trigger a worsening of symptoms (flares) in some people. Nuts such as almonds are high in insoluble fiber and can be difficult to digest. On the flip side, when patients are in remission, the fiber from nuts such as almonds can be part of a healthy, balanced diet.
There is no specific diet for people who have ulcerative colitis, though individuals may find certain foods can trigger flares. What triggers symptoms in one person may not trigger them in another. It is important for people who have ulcerative colitis to learn which foods trigger their symptoms.
What Are Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis can vary and about half of all patients have mild symptoms. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:
- Rectal bleeding
- Persistent diarrhea (may be bloody)
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Rectal pain
- Urgent bowel movements
- Painful urge to move the bowels caused by the inflammation
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
Patients with ulcerative colitis tend to have relapses, when inflammation and symptoms worsen (flares), followed by periods of remission, lasting months to years when symptoms subside.
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?
The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, but it is believed to involve an abnormal activation of the immune system in the intestines, causing chronic inflammation and ulceration in portions of the large intestine.
This susceptibility to abnormal activation of the immune system is genetically inherited. Having a first-degree relative (brother, sister, child, and/or parent) who has ulcerative colitis is a risk factor for developing ulcerative colitis.
How Is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed?
Ulcerative colitis is diagnosed with a physical exam and patient history and tests such as:
What Is the Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis?
Medications are used to treat ulcerative colitis to induce or maintain remissions and improve quality of life. Surgery may be used as a last-resort for patients who have severe inflammation and life-threatening complications.
Medications used to treat ulcerative colitis include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- 5-ASA compounds
- Mesalamine (Asacol, Pentasa, Rowasa, Lialda, Apriso)
- Olsalazine (Dipentum)
- Balsalazide (Colazal)
- Systemic corticosteroids (prednisone, prednisolone, cortisone)
- Topical corticosteroids
- Azathioprine/6-MP (Imuran, Azasan)
- Methotrexate (Trexall, Otrexup)
- Cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral)
- Biologic therapies
- Infliximab (Remicade)
- Janus kinase inhibitors (JAK Inhibitors)
Surgery for ulcerative colitis is a last-resort for severe cases and usually involves removing the entire colon and the rectum. Removal of the colon and rectum is the only permanent cure for ulcerative colitis.
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