11946 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Ulcerative Colitis

    (UC; Colitis, Ulcerative)

    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
    IMAGE
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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:

    Treatment

    Treatment options may include:

    Dietary Changes

    Your doctor may recommend that you avoid certain foods that trigger symptoms, such as:
    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:
    If you are diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, follow your doctor's instructions.

    Prevention

    There are no guidelines for preventing this condition.

    RESOURCES

    American Gastroenterological Society http://www.gastro.org/

    Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America http://www.ccfa.org/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology http://www.cag-acg.org/

    Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada http://www.ccfc.ca

    References

    Richman S, Schub T. Ulcerative colitis. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center. Available at: www.ebscohost.com/pointOfCare/nrc-about. Updated August 2012. Accessed September 5, 2012.

    Ulcerative colitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated September 2, 2012. Accessed September 5, 2012.

    What is ulcerative colitis? Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America website. Available at: www.ccfa.org/what-are-crohns-and-colitis/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/. Accessed September 5, 2012.

    Revision Information

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