Teens Ulcerative Colitis

Pediatric UC can be a chronic condition. This means that you may have to manage the disease throughout your life. Some children have long periods of remission, sometimes years, when they experience few or no symptoms of the disease. However, the disease will usually come back at different times during your life. 

Symptoms can usually be well controlled with treatment and sometimes surgery can offer a cure. 

Pedi ulcerative colitis is an inflammation, or painful swelling, of the lining of the large intestine, or colon
The inflammation can wear away areas of the lining of your colon leaving sores or ulcers. These sores can be very painful and bleed. They can also cause you to have a lot of diarrhea.

Knowing where the inflammation is along the large intestine can help your doctor to decide the type of ulcerative colitis you have:

  • ulcerative proctitis – inflammation of the rectum / lower colon
  • pancolitis – inflammation that affects the entire colon
  • distalcolitis – inflammation of the left side of the colon

We don’t know what caused you to get pedi ulcerative colitis. Research suggests that the cause of Pedi UC is a combination of 3 main factors:

  • genetics
  • immune system
  • environment

but we don’t know how exactly they work together. We do know that Pediatric IBD can run in families, many children having a family member who also has the disease and that Pediatric IBD affects boys and girls equally. 

Before you are diagnosed, you may have a physical exam and may be asked to give a medical history. Your doctor may also want to have some tests taken to help decide if you have Pedi UC. 

  • Lab tests (blood, stool)
  • Endoscopic procedures (colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy)
  • X-rays (Lower GI series, Abdominal CT Scan)

Blood tests can be used to look for:

  • low blood counts such as anemia or low iron levels 
  • bleeding or infection in the colon
  • high white blood cell count showing inflammation
  • whether or not a treatment is working 

Stool samples can be used to look for:

  • infection in the colon or rectum
  • blood in the stool
  • inflammation

X-rays can be used to: 

  • decide if you have Pedi UC
  • find where the disease is along your colon

Endoscopy gives the doctor more information about your Pedi UC by using a lighted scope to see inside areas of the intestine.  Endoscopy is thought to be the best way to get a definite diagnosis.

Symptoms can begin slowly or come on suddenly and get worse quickly. Your symptoms can be very different at times from mild to serious. Symptoms can be well-controlled with proper treatment and surgery can offer a cure in some children. 

Your symptoms can include:

  • a lot of diarrhea
  • stomach pain or cramping
  • fevers
  • fatigue or unexplained tiredness
  • blood in your stool
  • anemia or low iron levels
  • weight loss
  • joint, skin or eye irritations

Common complications of Pedi UC can be things like:

  • Nutritional deficiencies or lack of the right amounts of proteins, calories and vitamins can often be a serious problem in children with ulcerative colitis. This happens when you do not get enough calories in your diet.
  • Toxic Megacolon or an infection in the large intestine that can cause a quick widening of the colon. This is a very serious complication because the colon can burst.

Children with Pedi UC can also have other problems like:

  • arthritis or joint problems
  • skin problems 
  • anemia or not enough iron in the blood
  • osteoporosis or weak bones
  • delayed growth

Some of these problems can get better during treatment for your Pedi UC and others will need to be treated separately.

One of the most important health problems for children with Crohn’s disease is a lack of growth or delayed development. 

Childhood is a time when nutrition has the biggest effect on growth. If you are not able to get enough calories and nutrients your body may not be able to grow and develop at a normal rate. It is very important that the symptoms of this problem be found early and treated so that your growth can return to normal. 

Treatment of your Pedi UC can be:

  • medications
  • nutrition supplements 
  • surgery
  • combination of these 

The goals of treatment are to: 

  • control inflammation
  • correct nutritional deficiencies
  • relieve and/or control symptoms 

Treatment of your Pedi UC can depend on: 

  • where the disease is and how serious it is
  • other complications
  • whether or not you have responded to other treatments 

Though surgery can sometimes offer a cure for ulcerative colitis, symptoms can be well-controlled with proper treatment. 

Your parent needs to know if you have any of the symptoms in this list. 

  • temperature above 101 degrees F
  • stomach pain or cramps that are out of the ordinary and do not go away
  • more than the usual number of bowel movements in a day
  • a change in the consistency of your bowel movements
  • blood in the bowel movement or a change in the amount of blood
  • new rectal pain
  • rectal bleeding
  • throwing up for more than 3-4 hours
  • vomit that has bile in it (yellow/green color)
  • bloated stomach
  • tiredness that doesn’t go away
  • rashes, especially on the lower legs
  • swelling or pain in the joints
  • swollen or red eyes

Remember, you know your body. Trust your judgment. If you are experiencing something that you are not sure about or that makes you feel uncomfortable, let your parents know right away.

Still have questions?