Understanding New Treatment Guidelines for Ulcerative Colitis

May 23, 2019 | General Medical

Ulcerative colitis is a condition that is under the umbrella of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). There are many pathways to treatment to improve quality of life for patients with ulcerative colitis; however, the official guidelines for the treatment of ulcerative colitis, which come from the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), had not been updated between the years 2009-2019. This can be a hardship for doctors when they’re trying to diagnose and treat the condition. Read on to learn more about ulcerative colitis, and how these new, updated guidelines can help streamline both diagnosis and treatment.

Understanding Ulcerative Colitis

Patients often get confused between the terms ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are inflammatory bowel diseases, but they are different from one another. Ulcerative colitis is only contained to the large intestine, with inflammation that presents in a continuous pattern. Crohn’s disease can affect any location in the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus. Instead of a continuous appearance, it can appear in splotches throughout the tract and most commonly presents at the end of the small intestine.

It is possible to have ulcerative colitis and not Crohn’s disease, and vice versa. It is also important to remember that inflammatory bowel disease also differs from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which is a less serious functional disorder. With effective treatment, patients who suffer with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease can have good quality of life.

What Are the Causes of Ulcerative Colitis?

Patients may often believe that they cause ulcerative colitis; for instance, they think it’s something they ate or a result of their diet. However, doctors and researchers believe this not to be true and instead think it is a mixture of genetics, environmental factors, and the body’s immune system. In fact, the most popular opinions about ulcerative colitis believe that it is an overreaction of the body’s immune system, which causes the large intestine to become red and inflamed. Common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include diarrhea, fatigue, abdominal pain, weight loss, and other associated symptoms.

How Updated Guidelines Help

The American College of Gastroenterology’s updated guidelines help ulcerative colitis patients because they help doctors diagnose and treat more effectively. New guidelines state that rectal bleeding and urgency may be signs of ulcerative colitis, and doctors should consider ulcerative colitis when a patient presents with these symptoms. Also, doctors should try to rule out other causes for these types of symptoms, such as Clostridioides difficile infection. The new guidelines also give doctors the aid of a classification system to diagnose their patients’ ulcerative colitis as mild, moderate, severe, and fulminant. This can also help make treatment more seamless for the providing physician.

When it comes to treatment, ACG provided a series of goals for doctors, such as symptom control, normalization of bowel frequency, induction and remission, and histologic remission. The guidelines go on to instruct doctors and providers how best to proceed with induction treatments and goes into therapy regimens regarding different facets of ulcerative colitis, such as the development of dysplasia.

For more information on ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease or to be seen by a physician, request an appointment with Gastroenterology Consultants of Savannah, PC.