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Ulcerative Colitis

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Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the colon (large intestine) and rectum.

The cause of ulcerative colitis is not known, but, like other inflammatory bowel diseases, there may be a link between:

  • A genetic predisposition
  • The environment
  • An overactive immune response to normal intestinal bacteria

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

Common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:

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

Diagnosing Ulcerative Colitis

To diagnose ulcerative colitis, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.

Tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Stool examination
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy to examine the rectum and the lower colon
  • Colonoscopy to examine the lining of the colon
  • Biopsy to test a small (2-4 mm) sample of colon tissue

Treating Ulcerative Colitis

The following treatment options can help to control or prevent the severity of ulcerative colitis symptoms.

Medicines for Treating Ulcerative Colitis

Many types of medicines are available to treat ulcerative colitis, such as:

  • Aminosalicylate medicines
  • Antibiotics/probiotics
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunomodulators
  • TNF-inhibitors
  • Other biologic treatments

Dietary Changes

Avoiding certain foods may help ease symptoms.

These foods are different for each person, but may include:

  • Dairy foods (due to lactose intolerance)
  • Highly seasoned foods
  • High-fiber foods

Surgery

Surgery for ulcerative colitis:

  • Is necessary for people who do not respond to medicine or who develop cancer
  • Cures the disease
  • Eliminates the risk of ever developing colon cancer, as the entire rectum and colon are removed

After removal of the colon, you may have a permanent end ileostomy (stoma bag) or an ileal pouch anal anastomosis (no external bag).

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