When Should I See a Surgeon About Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the colon. Similar to Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis can cause anemia, fatigue, fever, nausea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. And like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis can result in severe complications, including bleeding, perforated colon, and an increased risk of colon cancer. 

In this brief article, we discuss the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and when it may be time to consult a surgeon about your condition. If you ever have doubts about your gut health, be sure to consult a GI surgeon in Tampa for assistance. 

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

In addition to the symptoms listed above, people commonly experience frequent urgency and an inability to defecate once they’ve reached the bathroom. Although people usually experience mild-to-moderate symptoms, a small percentage of those with ulcerative colitis will experience severe symptoms, such as severe cramping and frequent bowel movements with blood or pus. 

Related: Should I Be Alarmed About Blood in My Stool? 

It’s only natural to be alarmed when you experience a change in your bowel movements, especially when you begin to see blood in your stool. But it’s important to remain calm. These changes could result from any number of gastrointestinal conditions, most of which can be treated with medications or minimally invasive procedures. We encourage you to set an appointment with a gastrointestinal surgeon in Tampa who can accurately diagnose your condition and set you up on a treatment plan. 

When to Consult a Surgeon 

As mentioned, most cases of ulcerative colitis are mild to moderate and can be treated with medications or surgery. Doctors commonly prescribe aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, immunomodulators, and anti-TNF medications; however, these medications have varying side effects and levels of effectiveness. For patients with severe symptoms or who respond poorly to medication, surgery may be the only option. Surgery is often performed to treat colon cancer, megacolon, and severe bleeding. Colon cancer is especially concerning because people with ulcerative colitis are at an increased risk of developing this cancer. 

Related: The Stages and Treatment Options for Colorectal Cancer

If your ulcerative colitis is unresponsive to medications, you’re experiencing severe symptoms, or you’re concerned with the spread of colon cancer, it’s time to consult a surgeon. Surgery to treat ulcerative colitis involves removing the entire colon. Essentially, there can be no ulcerative colitis (inflammation of the colon) or colon cancer if there is no colon. Whether or not surgery is the right option depends entirely on the patient and the severity of the symptoms, which is why it’s so important to consult a medical professional if you are experiencing symptoms of ulcerative colitis. 

Whalen Clark, M.D., is a GI surgeon in Tampa who specializes in treating ulcerative colitis and other gastrointestinal conditions with minimally invasive robotic surgery. Dr. Clark can diagnose and monitor your condition and help determine if surgery is right for you. For a board-certified surgeon who will always act in your best interest, schedule an appointment with Dr. Clark today. 

To learn more about ulcerative colitis surgery, or to schedule a consultation with Whalen Clark, M.D., a gastrointestinal surgeon in Tampa, please request an appointment today.

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