To diagnose ulcerative colitis, your GP will first askabout your symptoms, general health and medical history.
They'll also physically examine you, checking for signs such as paleness (caused by Iron deficiency anaemia ) and tenderness inyour tummy(caused by inflammation).
A stool sample can be checked for signs of infection, as gastroenteritis (infection of the stomach and bowel) can sometimes have similar symptoms to ulcerative colitis.
Blood tests may also be carried out to check for anaemia and to see if there's inflammation on any part of your body.
If your GP suspects you may have inflammatory bowel disease (a term mainly used to describe two diseases: ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease ), you may be referred to hospital for further tests.
These could include an X-ray or computerised tomography (CT) scan to rule out serious complicationsand a detailed examination of your rectum and colon.
The two types of examination you may have are described below.
A diagnosis of ulcerative colitis can be confirmed by examining the level and extent of bowel inflammation. This is initially done by using a sigmoidoscope, a thin, flexible tube containing a camera that's inserted into your rectum (bottom).
A sigmoidoscopy can also be used to remove a small sample of tissue from your bowel, soit can be tested in a laboratory. This is known as a biopsy .
The procedure can be uncomfortable, and you can be given a sedative to help you relax. It usually takes around 15 minutes and you can often go home the same day.
During this procedure, only the rectum and lower part of the colon are examined. If it's thought your ulcerative colitis has affected more of your colon, another examination will be required. This is known as a colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy uses a flexible tube containing a camera calleda colonoscope, which allows your entire colon to be examined.A biopsy sample can also be taken.
Before having a colonoscopy, your colon needs to be completely empty so you'll need to take strong laxatives beforehand.
Acolonoscopy can be uncomfortable, butyou'll be given sedatives and pain medications to help you relax and make the procedure as painless as possible. The procedure takes around half an hour and you'll be able to go home the same day.
Find out about ulcerative colitis, a long-term (chronic) condition where the colon and rectum (large intestine or large bowel) become inflamed.
The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, although it's thought to be the result of a problem with the immune system.
Your GP will first ask you about your symptoms, your general health and your medical history.
Treatment for ulcerative colitis depends on how severe the condition is and how often your symptoms flare up.
If you have ulcerative colitis, there's a risk you could develop further problems.
If you have ulcerative colitis, there are some things you can do yourself to help keep your symptoms under control and reduce your risk of complications.