Tell your doctor if you are experiencing ongoing diarrhea.Diarrhea is when you have three or more loose, watery stools daily.,
Take note of abdominal pain and/or cramps.Another common symptom of ulcerative colitis is abdominal pain with or without cramps.,
Look out for problems passing stool.Not all people with ulcerative colitis present with diarrhea.,
Take note of your energy level.Ulcerative colitis typically presents with a higher level of fatigue than you would normally experience in your day-to-day life.,
Watch for weight loss.If you have ulcerative colitis, the inflammation in the colon interferes with nutrient absorption.,
Measure your temperature.Ulcerative colitis may also present with a fever in conjunction with prolonged diarrhea and abdominal pain.,
Observe the course of your disease.Ulcerative colitis typically goes in waves, with periods when it is worse and periods when it gets better.,
Look for signs and symptoms of severe bleeding.One of the potential complications of ongoing ulcerative colitis is an episode of severe bleeding.,
Tell your doctor if you experience a sudden worsening of your abdominal pain.A number of the potential complications of ulcerative colitis present with sudden onset, severe abdominal pain.,
Watch for inflammation of your skin, joints, eyes, and mouth.Another potential complication of ulcerative colitis is redness and inflammation of the skin anywhere on your body, sore or swollen joints, irritated eyes, or developing mouth sores.,
Ask for blood tests.If you have symptoms suggestive of ulcerative colitis, one of the ways to investigate further is by ordering blood tests.,
Get a stool sample.A stool sample can also aid in the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis.,
Have a colonoscopy.While blood tests and a stool test both help in the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, a colonoscopy is the best way to thoroughly evaluate your colon and to confirm the diagnosis.,
Ask your doctor for an x-ray or CT scan if he or she suspects complications of ulcerative colitis.If you show signs and symptoms of potential ulcerative colitis complications, an x-ray and or CT scan is often the best way to view these.
If you are experiencing diarrhea for longer than a few days — and particularly if your diarrhea has blood or pus in it — it may be a sign of ulcerative colitis.
The diarrhea in ulcerative colitis may also be severe enough to wake you from sleep with the need to defecate.;
, You may feel this in any area of your abdomen, as it depends upon which area of your colon is diseased. (Note that the area of the colon that is affected will vary from person to person in ulcerative colitis; it may even vary at different times within the same person.)
, Some people may have an inability to defecate in spite of the feeling that they need to.
A struggle with defecation is often accompanied with rectal pain, and sometimes with rectal bleeding as well.
Note that blood or pus in your stool is a very common symptom in ulcerative colitis.
, Tell your doctor if you have been feeling more tired than normal.
This can be secondary to blood loss. Anemia can occur if blood loss is severe, presenting with symptoms of bleeding from rectum, fatigue, shortness of breath and/or heart palpitations.
, As a result, your body may not be absorbing the nutrients it needs, and you may be inadvertently suffering from malnutrition. Tell your doctor if you have been losing weight, as this could be a sign that you are not absorbing food properly due to ulcerative colitis.
In children, rather than weight loss, malabsorption from ulcerative colitis typically presents as a failure to thrive.
, If you have an unexplained fever lasting for more than a couple of days it is important to inform your physician. Note, however, that if your fever is due to another cause such as a cold or the flu then it may not be correlated to ulcerative colitis.
, In other words, it is not a steady condition, but rather one that improves and worsens variably over time.
Some people have prolonged periods of remission of their ulcerative colitis, while others experience frequent flare-ups of the condition.
Stress can often affect this condition and make it worse.
, Tell your doctor if you experience any of the following, which could indicate worrisome bleeding:
Feeling unusually faint or lightheaded (which can be a sign of substantial blood loss)
Noticing red blood in your stool
, Potential complications to be aware of include:
A “perforated colon” — This is when you develop a hole in your colon at an area that is diseased.
“Toxic megacolon” — This is when part of your colon becomes blocked with inflammation and subsequently swells to a very large size. This causes your colon to become thin-walled and dilated, and it can eventually become perforated.
, Inform your doctor if you are experiencing any of these as there are treatment options available.
Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease, which is why other areas of the body can be affected. Treatment is focused on modulating and suppressing this response.
, These may include a comprehensive chemistry panel or complete metabolic panel measuring kidney function (creatinine, glomerular filtration rate), liver function, and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium). Specifically, your doctor may look for:
Anemia (low hemoglobin), which may indicate blood loss from inflammation in your colon. This is measured by a complete blood count (CBC) measuring red blood cells (and their components), white blood cells (measures body’s ability to fight infection), and platelet count (cells that help body clot or stop bleeding).
Elevated white blood cells, which may indicate infection or inflammation. This may also be determined by a CBC.
, Your doctor may test for blood (hemoglobin) in your stool, which again may be a sign of blood loss. A stool test can also look for elevated white blood cell counts, and can examine for possible infections (such as parasitic, bacterial, or viral infections) that may present similarly to ulcerative colitis.
, A tube is inserted through your anus and passed all the way up your large intestine. There is a camera at the end of it to examine each portion of your colon, looking for damage and inflammation that may be suggestive and/or diagnostic of ulcerative colitis.
Biopsies of suspicious areas of your colon can also be taken during a colonoscopy.
The biopsy samples can then be looked at by doctors under the microscope.
The appearance of the diseased tissue under the microscope can be used to confirm the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis.
, For instance, and x-ray and/or CT can pick up:
Bowel wall perforation (a hole in the bowel wall) due to the disease
“Toxic megacolon,” which is a rapidly swelling colon due to a partial blockage from inflammation
Colon cancer, as having ulcerative colitis predisposes you to a higher likelihood of developing colon cancer