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Home > Services > Digestive Health > Digestive Conditions > Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative Colitis

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

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Having a family member with IBD (includes UC and Crohn's disease) may increase your risk of developing UC.

Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Nausea
  • Fever


Your doctor may order tests, such as:

  • Blood tests
  • Stool test
  • Barium enema
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Biopsy


Dietary Changes

Your doctor may recommend that you avoid foods that trigger symptoms. Since these foods differ for each person, your doctor or dietitian can help you develop a diet that works for you.


Potential medications include:

  • Aminosalicylate medicines 
  • Steroid anti-inflammatory medicines 
  • Immune modifier medicines
  • Biological agents 


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:

  • Arthritis
  • Anemia
  • Eye inflammation
  • Liver disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Colon cancer

If you are diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, follow your doctor's instructions.

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Speak with your doctor to get a referral.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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