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What are the risks associated with untreated Ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an autoimmune disease where the immune system is provoked to attack the intestine and cause injury to the bowel system. It is a chronic condition of the large intestine that affects the colon's lining and causes small sores or ulcers to form. These sores are inflammatory and often produce pus and mucous resulting in abdominal pain and urgency to defaecate frequently.

The symptoms initially appear normal, but every time they attack your digestive system, it feels no less than a nightmare.


Recognizing the symptoms of ulcerative colitis is difficult, but there are common symptoms such as:

  • Bloody stools
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Loose and urgent bowel movements
  • Persistent diarrhoea
  • Rectal pain

If you experience any of these symptoms, you must consult your doctor.
These symptoms will not stay forever; they may come and go with longer periods called remissions. But no matter how much you try to control the situation, you cannot ignore it. The more you ignore, the more difficult it is to tame. The earlier you realize that you have to live a chronic disease, the better it is to treat it early.

So, the smarter choice is to have it treated or managed well.

  1. However, many people are indecisive about the treatment for UC as: The symptoms are infrequent. They come in periodic episodes or have bursts of symptoms every few months, also known as 'flare-ups’. This often leads to neglecting the inflammation once the symptoms or pain subsides.
  2. People are generally misguided by the unreliable sources about the disease which can create more confusion.  

On the bright side, if you opt for treatment, you will allow the disease not to progress and can control the complications. On the other hand, if you want to let it go untreated as if the disease doesn't exist, here are some risks associated with untreated ulcerative colitis that can have serious implications:

Risk of untreated ulcerative colitis

Risk of infection:

Ulcers in the colon are breeding grounds for infections. This can weaken the intestinal wall and spread the infection onto the other parts of the organs, or worse may dig a hole in the colon, which is more dangerous as the leaky colon can be subjected to serious infections.


You may develop chronic fatigue syndrome:

Your immune system is pressurized to lessen the pain and inflammation caused due to ulcerative colitis. It typically involves putting in lots of efforts by the immune system which makes you feel constantly tired and develops chronic fatigue syndrome after a few days.


High chances of unpredictable flare-ups:

Unfortunately, due to the unpredictable nature of ulcerative colitis, many patients don't seek treatment. They feel it's unimportant and can manage when there are flare-up episodes. However, it is found that treatment of ulcerative colitis can make the disease controlled and remission so you can have a better quality of life.


Deficiencies of essential nutrients:

People with ulcerative colitis have inflammation in the large intestine, making it difficult to absorb certain vitamins and minerals. Also, there is a loss of blood while going to the toilet, which can lead to iron deficiency. Sometimes, restriction of certain foods can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiency. Not getting adequate nutrients can lead to malnutrition, which causes weight loss, tiredness, and weakness, making you sick often.


Impact on mental health:

Ulcerative colitis is a lifelong condition that may initially cause a person to feel emotionally overwhelmed. They go through various emotions ranging from confusion to anger and being lonely at times. This may impact their mental well-being. Therefore, seeking timely treatment for ulcerative colitis is a must to avoid mental illness.


Prevalence of colon cancer:

Ulcerative colitis substantially increases the risk of colon cancer. Prolonged inflammation in the entire colon region poses a high risk for mutation and cancerous cells to develop. Also, irregular growth like polyps in your colon can go undetected due to constant inflammation. Therefore, it is essential to have your colon frequently checked for early signs of cancer.


Higher risk of osteoporosis:

Poor nutrition in ulcerative colitis impacts your bone density. Sometimes, untreated ul cerative colitis flare-ups are managed by strong medications, which causes bone weakening and osteoporosis.


You are more susceptible to toxic megacolon:

If UC remains untreated for longer, the disease can penetrate into a deeper layer of your colon and manifest in the form of a toxic mega colon. This condition can be dangerous to neighbouring organs like the kidney and damage them.

The only option that remains available is to surgically remove the entire colon system.

This is not meant to scare you, but rather make you aware that neglecting the condition is not a wise option. We recommend you seek proper treatment and avoid complications related to ulcerative colitis and lead a healthy and quality life.