Overview

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and ulcers on the inner lining of the large intestine.

Causes

While no exact cause is known for ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune response, genetic predisposition, and environmental causes may all be factors.

Symptoms

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis may be mild, at first, and build over time. They include diarrhea, often with blood or pus visible, fatigue, weight loss, anemia, fever, and nausea. Only about 10% of ulcerative colitis patients develop the most serious symptoms.

Screening and Diagnosis

After taking a family history and performing a physical exam, your gastroenterologist will order lab tests and a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy. Biopsies are taken of the colon and rectum to confirm a ulcerative colitis diagnosis.

Treatment

Medications are available to put the ulcerative colitis into remission. In some extreme cases, surgery is recommended. Once diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a patient should follow their doctor’s schedule for monitoring and treatment.