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"What is Ulcerative Colitis?"


I was having recurring bouts of bloody diarrhea which my doctor said was probably a type of inflammatory bowel disease. Now she wants to do a biopsy because she believes it's ulcerative colitis. What is this disease and what does it mean for me in the long term if I do have it? What's the best way to treat it?


This is an example of how physicians need to do a better job explaining our thoughts to our patients. I will try to give you a brief overview of ulcerative colitis, but it would be a good idea for you to do some additional research yourself, if this is ultimately what you have. Ulcerative colitis is one of two types of inflammatory bowel disease (the other being Crohn's disease).

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It is characterized by inflammation of the colon and rectum causing bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, anemia, and occasionally ulcers of the skin, inflammation of the eye, and arthritis. Usually ulcerative colitis is treated initially with drugs meant to calm the inflammation in the colon. A feared complication of long standing ulcerative colitis is colon cancer. It is for these reasons that many patient ultimately either need to or decide to have their colon removed because the surgery is curative. I suggest that you present to your doctor again and ask him or her to explain his or her thought process about your disease and how it is going to be treated. It may not be a bad idea to seek a second opinion of another gastroenterologist. This way you can be more informed and understand what likely lies in your future. Good luck.

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