What is ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a condition that affects the digestive system, also known as the gut. UC causes damage to the large bowel. The immune system usually protects the body from infections by fighting germs and other harmful invaders. In ulcerative colitis, the immune system mistakes the gut for germs and attacks it. This causes inflammation in the gut, which makes it sore, red and swollen. Small sores called ulcers can develop on the walls that line the large bowel. Sometimes these ulcers bleed or make pus.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, inflammatory disorder of the colon and rectum. There is no cure for ulcerative colitis. It's characterized by periods of relapses (when the disease flares up with increased symptoms) and remission, when you feel well. However, being in remission doesn't mean you don't have ulcerative colitis anymore. You will still require medications and monitoring to keep you in that state of feeling well.

Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation of the innermost lining of the large intestine and/or rectum. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea that doesn't stop, abdominal cramps and rectal bleeding (bleeding from the very end of the GI tract, right before the anus). Other symptoms include anemia (a loss of red blood cells resulting in extreme tiredness or fatigue), nausea, vomiting, fever, weight loss (because the intestines may not be able to absorb enough nutrients from food), joint pain and skin problems.

Continue Learning about Ulcerative Colitis

Got Ulcerative Colitis? Make Sure to Protect Your Skin
Got Ulcerative Colitis? Make Sure to Protect Your Skin
As if dealing with diarrhea, stomach pain and fatigue wasn’t hard enough, there’s another major concern for people with ulcerative colitis, a type of ...
Read More
What is a proctocolectomy?
Dr. Daniel R. Spogen, MDDr. Daniel R. Spogen, MD
A proctocolectomy is a surgical procedure where the anus, rectum and colon are removed. This is typi...
More Answers
What are the side effects of aminosalicylates?
Donna Hill Howes, RNDonna Hill Howes, RN
Side effects may include fever, headaches, respiratory inflammation, muscle aches and pains, abdomin...
More Answers
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?
What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.