Ulcerative colitis

Alternative Names

Inflammatory bowel disease – ulcerative colitis; IBD – ulcerative colitis

Definition of Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. People with this condition have problems with the immune system, but it is not clear whether immune problems cause this illness. Although stress and certain foods can trigger symptoms, they do not cause ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms

The symptoms vary in severity and may start slowly or suddenly. About half of people only have mild symptoms. Others have more severe attacks that occur more often. Many factors can lead to attacks, including respiratory infections or physical stress.

Signs and tests

Colonoscopy with biopsy is generally used to diagnose ulcerative colitis.

Treatment

The goals of treatment are to:

Expectations (prognosis)

About half of patients with ulcerative colitis have mild symptoms. Patients with more severe ulcerative colitis tend to respond less well to medications.

Review

George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 12/13/2010

Colonoscopy
Digestive system
Ulcerative colitis

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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