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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?

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  • The symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal pain, recurring diarrhea and bloody stools, to name a few. They occur when the disease enters the “flare-up” phase, and usually lessen or disappear once the disease reaches a remission period
  • The symptoms of ulcerative colitis are not limited to the GI tract, as they may also occur on other parts of the body, particularly the skin and bones
  • According to studies, the mortality risk for ulcerative colitis patients is 1.7 times higher than that of the general population

The common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are similar to that of the other inflammatory bowel diseases, which is why it can be a bit confusing to diagnose. When consulting a doctor, it’s very important to be honest about your symptoms because the treatment plan that’s appropriate for you usually depends on this factor.

Talk to Your Doctor if You Experience Any of These Telltale Signs

The symptoms of ulcerative colitis occur when you enter the “flare-up” phase, and they usually lessen or disappear once the disease reaches a remission period. According to Crohns & Colitis, the usual warning signs of a flaring ulcerative colitis include:1

  • Abdominal pain/discomfort
  • Recurring diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Tenesmus (an urge to move your bowels even if you’ve just emptied your colon)
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss

It’s hard to predict when an ulcerative colitis flare-up will occur. The symptoms that you may encounter from each flare-up may also change or worsen. Oftentimes, these symptoms help determine how severe your ulcerative colitis is.

Ulcerative Colitis May Cause Symptoms Outside the Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract

The symptoms of ulcerative colitis are not limited to the GI tract, as they may also occur on other parts of the body, particularly the skin and bones. Here are some of the extraintestinal symptoms that you should watch out for:2

  • Eye itchiness, redness and pain
  • Mouth sores
  • Painful and swollen joints
  • Skin rashes, bumps and ulcerations
  • Clubbing of fingers

Understanding the Severity of Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

If you’re diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, you should know how to determine the severity of your symptoms so you can manage them before they worsen or to lower your risk for life-threatening complications. Here are the classifications of its warning signs:3

  • Mild — People with mild ulcerative colitis symptoms usually release bloody, loose stools less than four times per day and experience mild abdominal pain.
  • Moderate — Moderate symptoms include four to six loose bowel movements per day, which are also accompanied by bloody rectal discharge, moderate abdominal pain and anemia.
  • Severe — Individuals with severe ulcerative colitis move their bowels more than six times a day. This is accompanied by rectal bleeding, fever, anemia and increased heart rate.
  • Fulminant — Fulminant symptoms include abdominal tenderness, more than 10 loose bowel movements per day, constant rectal bleeding, fever, anemia and rapid heartbeat.

Ulcerative colitis may also lead to other complications that require urgent medical attention. These complications include enlargement of the colon (also known as toxic megacolon) and holes on the intestinal wall.4 Some people with ulcerative colitis develop serious conditions outside the GI tract as well, including kidney stones, bone diseases and even liver disorders.

Mortality in Ulcerative Colitis

According to studies, the mortality risk for ulcerative colitis patients is 1.7 times higher than that of the general population.5 However, this is not due to ulcerative colitis itself. Rather, these deaths are caused by the complications brought about by this disease.

For instance, patients who are suffering from extensive inflammation are at a higher risk of dying from fatal gastrointestinal and lung diseases.6 This is exactly why it’s important that you diagnose and manage this disease with the help of proper treatment methods the moment that you observe its symptoms from your body.

MORE ABOUT ULCERATIVE COLITIS

Ulcerative Colitis: Introduction

What Is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

Ulcerative Colitis Causes

Types of Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative Colitis Treatment

Ulcerative Colitis Prevention

Ulcerative Colitis Diet

Ulcerative Colitis FAQ

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