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The differences in severity
There are varying degrees of ulcerative colitis severity: mild, moderate to severe, and very severe. Each varying degree, along with the symptoms you are currently experiencing, may require a different treatment approach that you will determine with your gastroenterologist. However, if your disease activity changes, make sure to update your doctor and keep an open conversation going.
Question: How severe is your UC?
Ulcerative colitis (UC) has different severity levels that impact each person differently.
To help determine the severity of your disease and make decisions about disease management, your gastroenterologist may use the Ulcerative Colitis Endoscopic Index of Severity (UCEIS) along with other tests.
The usual suspect? Inflammation
With ulcerative colitis, inflammation can affect the inner lining of the colon. Left untreated, it can progress over time and cause more inflammation, which could lead to colon damage and worsening symptoms. To properly diagnose UC, an endoscopy test will be performed to look at the level of inflammation inside your digestive track.
What progression looks like
Visualizing the level of inflammation is not only possible, but also necessary. This is how the extent and severity of the disease can be determined by your doctor to categorize your ulcerative colitis as proctitis, left-sided colitis, or extensive colitis (pancolitis).
By getting a detailed picture of your colon your doctor will be able to diagnose, treat, and monitor the response from the treatment given to you.
UC’s effects outside the colon
UC can affect your body in many ways. These are usually referred to as extraintestinal manifestations, or EIMs. If you’re experiencing EIMs you should tell your doctor so you can receive the proper care or be referred to a specialist.
- Joint pain (Arthritis): With ulcerative colitis, inflammation can cause certain joints to become inflamed.
- Skin problems: Sores and tender bumps can be a result of ulcerative colitis.
- Mouth sores: These can show up when you have ulcerative colitis.
- Eye problems: Soreness, redness, irritation, and worsening or even loss of vision can be a result of ulcerative colitis.
- Bone loss (Osteoporosis): Ulcerative colitis is known to cause bone loss and bone thinning.
- Liver issues (Primary sclerosing cholangitis): Though rare, bile ducts can become inflamed and cause liver disease.
Keep an eye on your symptoms
Because ulcerative colitis can be a progressive disease, flare-ups and symptoms can get worse over time. That’s why it’s important to keep your gastroenterologist up to date on symptoms you’re experiencing.
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Partner with a gastroenterologist
A gastrointestinal (GI) disease specialist can help you manage your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Curious about treatment options?
Partner with your doctor to figure out your UC treatment goals and a treatment plan that may be right for you.