Ulcerative colitis is a long-term condition, where the colonand rectum become inflamed .
The colon is the large intestine (bowel), and the rectum is the end of the bowel wherestools arestored.
Smallulcers can develop onthe colon's lining,and can bleed and produce pus.
The main symptoms of ulcerative colitis are:
You may also experience fatigue(extremetiredness), loss of appetite and weight loss.
Theseverity of the symptoms varies, depending on how much of the rectum and colon is inflamed and how severe the inflammation is. For some people, the condition has a significant impact on their everyday lives.
Some people may go for weeks or months with very mild symptoms, or none at all (known as remission), followed by periods where the symptoms are particularly troublesome (known as flare-ups or relapses).
During a flare-up, some people with ulcerative colitis also experience symptoms elsewhere in their body. For example, some people develop:
In severe cases, defined as having to empty your bowels six or more times a day, additional symptoms may include:
In most people, no specific trigger for flare-upsis identified, althougha gut infection can occasionally be the cause. Stress is also thought to be a potential factor.
They can arrange blood or stool sample tests to help determine what may be causing your symptoms. If necessary, they can refer you to hospital for further tests.
You may need to be admitted to hospital.
Ifyou can't contact your GP or care team, call NHS 111 or contact your local out-of-hours service .
Ulcerative colitis is thought to be an autoimmune condition. This means the immune system the body's defence against infection goes wrong and attacks healthy tissue.
The most popular theory is that the immune system mistakes harmless bacteria inside the colon for a threat and attacks the tissues of the colon, causing it to become inflamed.
Exactly what causes the immune system to behave in this way is unclear. Most experts think it's a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
It's more common in white people of European descent (especially those descended from Ashkenazi Jewish communities) and black people. The condition israrer in peoplefrom Asian backgrounds (although the reasons for this are unclear).
Both men and women seem to be equally affected by ulcerative colitis.
Treatment for ulcerative colitis aims to relieve symptoms during a flare-up and prevent symptoms from returning (known as maintaining remission).
In most people, this is achieved by taking medication such as:
Mild to moderate flare-ups can usually be treated at home. However, moresevere flare-upsneed to betreated in hospital to reduce the risk ofserious complications, such as the colon becoming stretched and enlarged or developing large ulcers. Both of these can increase the risk of developing a hole in the bowel.
If medications aren't effective at controlling your symptoms, or your quality of life is significantly affected byyour condition, surgery to remove your colon may be an option.
During surgery, your small intestine will either be diverted out of an opening in your abdomen (known as an ileostomy ), or used to create an internal pouch that's connected to your anus (known as an ileo-anal pouch).
Find out about ulcerative colitis, a long-term (chronic) condition where the colon and rectum (large intestine or large bowel) become inflamed.
The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, although it's thought to be the result of a problem with the immune system.
Your GP will first ask you about your symptoms, your general health and your medical history.
Treatment for ulcerative colitis depends on how severe the condition is and how often your symptoms flare up.
If you have ulcerative colitis, there's a risk you could develop further problems.
If you have ulcerative colitis, there are some things you can do yourself to help keep your symptoms under control and reduce your risk of complications.