Priyanka Chugh, MD, is a board-certified gastroenterologist in practice with Trinity Health of New England in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that primarily affects the digestive tract, but can also have an impact on other parts of the body. It can cause symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and an urgent need to empty the bowels. Symptoms can cycle through periods of remission and active disease.
Symptoms may differ from person to person, which can make diagnosis challenging. There are several medications that can treat ulcerative colitis.
The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is not known. Factors that may contribute to the condition include genetics, immune response, and environmental triggers. Smoking and certain medications, such as antibiotics and birth control pills, may also play a role in triggering the condition.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease for which there is no known cure. Symptoms seem to flare up and then go into remission off and on throughout a person’s life. Approximately 10% of people never experience another flare-up after the first one, but it is thought that in these cases, the diagnosis may have been incorrect.
Yes. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system is triggered by something, such as bacteria or a virus. It goes into normal “attack” mode to eliminate the foreign invader, but instead of going back to normal, the immune system continues to attack other areas of the body. In ulcerative colitis, it is the intestine that is attacked.
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and an urgent need to empty the bowels. Symptoms tend to cycle through periods of remission and active disease. Diagnosing ulcerative colitis can be challenging, as symptoms may vary from person to person.
A class of medications used to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis by achieving remission and controlling inflammation. The goal is to resolve any symptoms and then maintain remission. Overall, these drugs are considered more effective for ulcerative colitis than Crohn’s disease.
A disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own cells and tissues as if they were foreign invaders, such as bacteria or viruses. There are more than 100 different autoimmune diseases. Some involve a single organ and others attack many organs and types of tissue.
A procedure in which a flexible, lighted tube equipped with a tiny TV camera, called a colonoscope, is inserted into the rectum and threaded through the colon to look for any evidence of cancer, polyps, ulcers, or other abnormalities.
An umbrella term that includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both forms of IBD are autoimmune diseases in which the immune system attacks the body’s own organs and tissues. Crohn’s disease can affect the colon and other parts of the digestive tract, while ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon. In some cases, IBD attacks other organ systems as well, mainly the skin and joints.
A condition in which the tissue lining the rectum becomes inflamed. There are many possible causes of proctitis, including STDs. Symptoms of proctitis can include rectal bleeding, anal and rectal pain, and diarrhea.
A minimally invasive procedure used to diagnose intestinal symptoms and looks for the presence of abnormal tissue in the rectum and sigmoid colon. Unlike a colonoscopy, a sigmoidoscopy only examines the rectum and the lower part of the large intestine, which is called the sigmoid colon.
A type of open sore that can occur on the skin, in the mouth, and in the lining of the stomach and intestines. In ulcerative colitis, ulcers appear on the lining of the large intestine, or colon, and in some cases the rectum.
Lynch WD, Hsu R. Colitis, Ulcerative. [Updated 2018 Nov 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
Cleveland Clinic. Proctitis.
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Fact Sheet. Aminosalicylates.