Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It results in inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the colon and rectum.
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The exact cause is not known. Things that may play a role are:
This problem is more common in people who are 15 to 30 years of age. It is also more common in people of Jewish descent.
Other things that may play a role are:
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood and stool tests may be done.
The inside of the colon and rectum will be viewed. This can be done with:
A sample of tissue may be taken from the colon and rectum. This can be done with a biopsy.
There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:
People who are not helped by these methods may need surgery. A colectomy is the partial or full removal of the colon.
There are no current guidelines to prevent this health problem.
American Gastroenterological Society
Crohn's & Colitis Foundation
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Crohn's and Colitis Canada
Rubin DT, Ananthakrishnan AN, et al. ACG Clinical Guideline: Ulcerative Colitis in Adults. Am J Gastroenterol. 2019 Mar;114(3):384-413.
Ulcerative colitis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/ulcerative-colitis-in-adults. Accessed March 24, 2021.
What is ulcerative colitis? Crohn's & Colitis Foundation website. Available at:
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Accessed March 24, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 03/24/2021