Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease characterized by inflammation and swelling of the inner lining of the large intestine. Over time, repeated inflammation can cause deterioration if the inner colon, resulting in ulcers and lesions. There are many different types of ulcerative colitis that can present in children. Sometimes the inflammation is only isolated to the lower colon and rectum (ulcerative proctitis) or to the left side of the colon (distalcolitis). Many times, however, the disease affects a child’s entire colon – a condition known as pancolitis. Nurse Practitioner and researchers are unsure of what causes ulcerative colitis children. However, it is known that three major factors – genetics, environment, and immunity – play a role in whether a child develops the disease and what triggers flare-ups.
Did you know…
that ulcerative colitis is one of the most common forms of irritable bowel disease? Many people confuse this condition for irritable bowel syndrome, which is a much less severe bowel disease that causes a spastic colon. Children who develop IBD may also be at risk of other conditions, such as arthritis, liver disease, and skin diseases. In addition to medical intervention, it may be possible for parents to reduce a child’s symptoms by making dietary changes, such as by eliminating lactose and fructose, which are associated with ulcerative colitis flare-ups.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of ulcerative colitis?
A child with an ulcerative colitis flare-up may complain of severe abdominal pain. Often, the disease causes chronic diarrhea, which may contain blood from the lesions within the colon. Some children with ulcerative colitis experience long periods of remission between flare-ups, while others suffer from symptoms more frequently.
What tests are available to diagnose pediatric ulcerative colitis?
Diagnosing ulcerative colitis in a child typically requires various GI tests and lab testing. These may include stool tests, blood tests, colonoscopy and upper endoscopy. In some cases, a child may need to undergo more detailed screenings. For example, a child may be asked to swallow a pill containing a camera that records its journey through the digestive system.
What types of treatments are available for ulcerative colitis?
The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms, reduce inflammation, and ensure a child is receiving adequate nutrition. While most children with ulcerative colitis will need to manage the condition for their entire lives, a pediatric Nurse Practitioner can help manage the condition with treatment. Medications are available to help prevent auto-immune reactions and reduce inflammation. In some cases, a child’s ulcerative colitis may be resolved with surgery.