Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The board-certified pediatric gastroenterologists with Norton Children’s Gastroenterology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, provide specialized gastrointestinal (GI) care for ulcerative colitis.

What Is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis happens when there are continuous segments of inflammation in the large intestine (colon) and rectum. The condition causes the body’s immune system to attack the healthy cells of the inner part of the intestinal wall, causing inflammation.

Ulcerative Colitis Causes

Like many inflammatory diseases, the precise cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. Research suggests there are genetic, environmental and immunologic factors that may trigger the body’s immune system to create inflammation.

Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

Ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary from child to child. It is a chronic condition, meaning a child will have periods of no symptoms (remission) and periods when they do have symptoms (flare).

Some symptoms are more common than others, including bloody diarrhea. Other symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Urgent or uncontrollable bowel movements
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Fever

Ulcerative Colitis Treatment

The board-certified pediatric gastroenterologists with Norton Children’s Gastroenterology will work with your child to develop a unique treatment plan based on your child’s age, symptoms and current condition. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms, reduce flares as well as heal the intestine. Each child is different, and the treatment plan may include:

  • Medications: Medications for ulcerative colitis can include 5-aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, antibiotics and immunomodulators (medicines that can alter the immune system).
  • Nutrition therapy: Children with ulcerative colitis can have trouble keeping weight on, so diet can play a big role in treating the condition. Norton Children’s Gastroenterology has dietitians who can work with your child to develop a personalized nutritional plan.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be suggested if a child has severe, ongoing symptoms that affect weight gain and growth. There are multiple surgical options. Your pediatric gastroenterologist will work with your child and family to determine if surgery is necessary.

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