Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that could cause your child severe pain and gastrointestinal problems. If you’re concerned about your child’s symptoms, board-certified pediatrician Ahmet Aybar, MD, of Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in Annapolis, Maryland, can help by making an accurate diagnosis and providing effective therapies. Dr. Aybar specializes in treating children and young adults who have conditions like ulcerative colitis, so call Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.

Ulcerative Colitis Q & A

What is ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a condition that produces an inflammatory response in your child’s large intestine or colon. The inflammation leads to swelling of the tissues, bleeding, and diarrhea. Ulcerative colitis is an incurable, long-term condition.

Of the patients diagnosed with ulcerative colitis each year in the United States, around 15-20% of them will be children. The condition is most likely to develop when a child reaches 10 years old.

The cause of ulcerative colitis isn’t known. It could be due to an infection that triggers the inflammatory reaction in the child’s colon, but no one knows for sure. A child is more likely to get ulcerative colitis if another family member has the condition.

What are the symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

The inflammation ulcerative colitis causes can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Anemia
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Malnutrition
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Stomach pain
  • Unexplained weight loss

Symptoms could be mild or severe. In serious cases, ulcerative colitis can cause symptoms elsewhere in your child’s body as well, for example:

  • Brittle bones
  • Eye inflammation
  • Joint pain
  • Rashes
  • Skin lesions
  • Kidney stones
  • Liver disorders

A child who has ulcerative colitis might have periods when they have no symptoms, only for the problems to flare up again.

How is ulcerative colitis diagnosed?

At Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Dr. Aybar begins by looking at your child’s medical history and discussing any symptoms they have. He carries out a physical exam too.

As there’s no test to confirm ulcerative colitis, Dr. Aybar might need to run tests to exclude other possible causes for your child’s symptoms. These tests include:

  • Blood tests
  • Red blood cell count
  • White blood cell count
  • Stool sample
  • Upper endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Barium enema X-ray
  • CapsoCam Plus® camera pill

If there are no indicators of other diseases, infections, or parasites, causing your child’s symptoms, Dr. Aybar can confirm the cause as ulcerative colitis.

How is ulcerative colitis treated?

There are several approaches Dr. Aybar can use to treat your child’s ulcerative colitis. Medications called aminosalicylates can help to reduce inflammation, and corticosteroids help prevent your child’s immune system from attacking their colon.

Other medications called immunomodulators or TNF-alpha blocking agents also help by decreasing inflammatory reactions.

It’s also important that your child eats a nutritious, well-balanced diet that contains all the nutrients they need, but excludes any food that could irritate the colon. Dr. Aybar is an expert in pediatric nutrition, and he can design an appropriate diet plan for your child.

Most children who have ulcerative colitis respond well to these treatments. However, a few children don’t improve and may even deteriorate. If this is the case, surgery to remove the affected section of the colon could be the best option.

If your child has symptoms of ulcerative colitis, call Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition today, or book an appointment online.