Ulcerative Colitis in Northwest Arkansas

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Ulcerative colitis is a condition that falls under the larger grouping of disorders called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The condition results in irritating inflammation and ulcerations within one's gastrointestinal (GI) tract, most often the colon. Ulcerative colitis is distinct from Crohn's disease (the other form of IBD) because it is limited to the colon. Crohn's disease, on the other hand, is typically experienced at the end of the small intestine and beginning of one's colon but can involve any part of the intestinal system anywhere from the anus to the mouth. Also, ulcerative colitis involves only the colon's inner lining, whereas Crohn's disease could impact the entirety of the intestinal wall.

People who have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis often are forced to endure uncomfortable GI symptoms which interfere with their everyday lives. At GI Alliance of Arkansas, our board-certified GI doctors routinely identify and provide treatment for ulcerative colitis, and collaborate with people to assist in providing relief from the symptoms it causes. If you are seeking help for ulcerative colitis in Arkansas, we encourage you to contact our practice today.

There are several types of ulcerative colitis. They're classified according to their location in the colon:

Ulcerative proctitis: The inflammation of one's colon is confined to the rectum and is commonly the least severe type of ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative proctitis is known to cause rectal bleeding.

Left-sided colitis: Swelling is more widespread throughout the colon and may involve more than the rectum but is confined to all or a portion of the sigmoid and descending colon. It usually causes concerning symptoms, some of which could include diarrhea containing blood and unplanned loss of weight.

Pancolitis: This type of ulcerative colitis is also known as extensive colitis and might involve the entire colon. Symptoms could include extreme bloody diarrhea, extreme pain in the abdomen, and fatigue.

Acute severe ulcerative colitis: This is a less common form of ulcerative colitis that affects the complete colon. Its symptoms could include extreme pain and the inability to consume food. This condition typically requires hospitalization and is known to have an increased chance of surgery.

There is no general consensus regarding the precise cause of ulcerative colitis. However, there are certain factors that seem to raise the chance of the manifestation of ulcerative colitis and its related discomforts.

  • Genetics: An individual may inherit genetic material from their parent or parents that elevates the chance of developing ulcerative colitis.
  • Immune system: It is commonly accepted that internal bacteria or viruses could trigger the occurrence of ulcerative colitis. In the event that bacteria or a virus enters one's digestive tract, your body enlists your immune system to engage the bacteria or virus. When this takes place, your body deploys white blood cells to the colon and they end up attacking healthy cells and tissue. The end result of this is that your colon, or large intestine, is then inflamed.

What are the risk factors for ulcerative colitis?

Factors that are believed to elevate your risk of developing ulcerative colitis include:

  • Family history: If a member of your family suffers from ulcerative colitis, you have an elevated risk of suffering from this disease.
  • Race or ethnicity: People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and Caucasians appear to be at an elevated chance of suffering from ulcerative colitis. However, the condition may impact anyone.
  • Age: Ulcerative colitis often develops before the age of 30.

What are some common symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

The majority of ulcerative colitis symptoms manifest slowly, and they range from moderate to serious. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis usually include:

  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle
  • Pain in the rectum
  • Cramps in the stomach
  • Diarrhea with pus or blood
  • Drainage or pain around or near the anus
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Blood in the stool
  • Fever
  • Constipation
  • Pain in the abdomen

If you ever notice blood in your stool, we urge you to make contact with your physician or a specialist in Arkansas right away. You should see a gastroenterologist should you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms or any combination of symptoms on a persistent basis. The board-certified gastroenterologists at GI Alliance of Arkansas can provide specialized treatment for ulcerative colitis and help treat and manage these problems.

The specialists at GI Alliance of Arkansas treat ulcerative colitis with two primary goals in mind: manage the swelling that creates the symptoms and then get the disease into remission. Subsequent treatment includes screening for cancer, since suffering from ulcerative colitis puts you at greater risk for a diagnosis of colon cancer. The main categories of ulcerative colitis treatments are as follows:

Antibiotics: Antibiotics may help eliminate bacteria known to cause the excessive immune system reaction that leads to swelling. These are not a primary form of treatment but may be utilized in conjunction with alternate treatments.

Anti-inflammatory drugs: Anti-inflammatory medications used to treat ulcerative colitis are corticosteroids and oral 5-aminosalicylates. Corticosteroids help decrease swelling in your body and may be given along with immune system suppressants. Oral 5-aminosalicylates are also useful in the reduction of swelling in your body.

Additional medications and supplements may be suggested to control and manage ulcerative colitis symptoms. These could include:

  • Anti-diarrheals
  • Calcium and vitamin D supplementation
  • Vitamin B-12 shots
  • Iron supplementation

Long-term anti-inflammatory therapies: These therapies address the body's abnormal immune response to viruses and bacteria. The immunosuppressant meds your Arkansas gastroenterologist could prescribe include:

  • Methotrexate
  • Infliximab
  • Tofacitinib
  • Ustekinumab
  • Natalizumab
  • Azathioprine
  • Certolizumab
  • Adalimumab
  • Vedolizumab

Diet and Nutrition: Your gastrointestinal specialist may recommend a unique food plan to help reduce symptoms and induce remission.

Surgery: In serious circumstances, surgical intervention may be needed to remove a part of, or the entirety of, the colon or rectum.

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Is ulcerative colitis a curable disease?

Presently, no cure exists for ulcerative colitis. However, there is medication that can manage the disorder and its associated symptoms. While medication therapy is not a cure, it can help ulcerative colitis go into remission.

Is ulcerative colitis caused by diet?

A link between food and a direct cause of this condition has not been found. Certain dietary factors may be related to an elevated risk of developing ulcerative colitis. Such factors include foods high in refined carbs, fats, and sugar and those low in fiber, vegetables, and fruits.

Who can diagnose ulcerative colitis?

Your symptoms will likely prompt you to visit your family doctor. However, if your doctor suspects you have ulcerative colitis, they may refer you to a gastrointestinal specialist, such as those at GI Alliance of Arkansas. Consulting a provider specializing in the GI system can benefit your health.

What might help the disease stay in remission?

When you achieve disease remission, you likely will aim to remain there. Factors to note during remission are:

  • Stress: Stress can lead to symptom recurrence. Stress management, proper sleeping habits, and regular exercise can lessen your chances of recurring symptoms.
  • Medication change: Please inform our GI team if your medications seem to trigger your symptoms. It may be possible to change your medication to one less likely to cause a flare-up.
  • Medications: For fever or pain, you may consider taking Tylenol® (acetaminophen) rather than NSAIDs (like Motrin® or Advil®) since acetaminophen is less likely to trigger symptoms. Talk with your medical provider for more information.

Ulcerative colitis can have a negative impact on your digestive wellness and overall enjoyment of life. With specialized treatment, however, you can manage the condition and improve your quality of life. No matter if you are suffering from the beginning symptoms or controlling ulcerative colitis flare-ups post-remission, the GI specialists at GI Alliance of Arkansas can provide you with individualized treatment choices to assist you in finding relief. To connect with a physician who offers care for ulcerative colitis in Arkansas, please contact our office as soon as possible.

There was confusion on my appt but they worked me in. All the staff were very polite, friendly and efficient

B.M. Google

Very Professional and Great assistants in all my Health needs.

M. Google

Good experience. Nurses and dr. Vinson were friendly, efficient and timely. Kept me well informed at each step in process.

R.A. Google

Excellent all around. Ez to talk to snd great listener. Answered all questions i had

D.K. Google

I have always had such a positive experience with Dr. O’Keefe as my GI doctor. He’s incredibly knowledgeable, keeps me updated on new treatments, and is always looking out for my best interests. I’m looking to start a family soon and he took extra time out of his day to ensure that the medicine I am on would be safe while pregnant and breastfeeding. He explains things in a way where it isn’t over your head and his level of care is above and beyond.

J.M. Google


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