Definition

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of severe, chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) , which causes:

    
  • Inflammation
  • Ulcers
  • Bleeding in the lining of the colon and rectum
  • Ulcerative Colitis

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    Causes

    The exact cause is unknown. A virus or bacteria may cause the immune system to overreact and damage the colon and rectum.

    Risk Factors

    Having a family member with IBD (includes UC and Crohn's disease ) may increase your risk of developing UC.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

        
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical exam. Your doctor may order tests, such as:

        
  • Blood tests
  • Stool test
  • Barium enema
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Biopsy
  • Treatment

    Treatment options may include:

    Dietary Changes

    Your doctor may recommend that you avoid certain foods that trigger symptoms, such as:

        
  • Dairy foods (due to lactose intolerance )
  • Highly seasoned foods
  • High-fiber foods
  • Talk to your doctor to learn more about the types of foods that you should avoid.

    Medications

    There are a range of medicines that may be prescribed, such as:

        
  • Aminosalicylate medicines (such as, sulfasalazine, mesalamine, olsalazine, balsalazide disodium)
  • Steroid anti-inflammatory medicines (such as, prednisone, methylprednisolone, budesonide)
  • Immune modifier medicines (such as, azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine, cyclosporine)
  • Biological agents (such as, infliximab, adalimumab)
  • Surgery

    Medicine may not cure very severe UC. In some cases, your doctor may suggest surgery . This can involve having all or part of the colon removed. Surgery may also be done because UC increases your risk of colon cancer .

    Over time, colitis that is not treated or that does not respond to treatment can lead to:

        
  • Arthritis
  • Eye inflammation
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney stones
  • Skin rashes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Colon cancer
  • If you are diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, follow your doctor's instructions .

    Prevention

    There are no guidelines for preventing this condition.