(UC; Colitis, Ulcerative)
Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of severe, chronic
inflammatory bowel disease
(IBD), which causes:
Inflammation in the lining of the colon and rectum
Ulcers in the lining of the colon and rectum
Bleeding in the lining of the colon and rectum
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The exact cause is unknown. A virus or bacteria may cause the immune system to overreact and damage the colon and rectum.
Having a family member with IBD (includes UC and
Crohn disease) may increase your risk of developing UC.
UC may cause:
Abdominal cramps and pain
Eye inflammation, such as
Intestinal complications of UC may include:
Fistula—abnormal passageway between 2 bodily structures
Toxic megacolon—a potentially life-threatening condition when the colon severely expands, which may result in reduced blood flow
Other complications of UC may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Testing may include:
Treatment options may include:
Your doctor may recommend that you avoid certain foods, such as:
Talk to your doctor or dietitian about what foods may work best for you.
There are a range of medications that may be prescribed, such as:
Steroid anti-inflammatory medications
partial or complete removal of the colon. This may be necessary for:
An emergency, such as a perforation, excessive bleeding, or life-threatening infection
Long-term disease that does not respond to medications or other treatment
—includes confirmed diagnosis or suspicious tissue on examination
Lack of growth because of nutritional deficiencies (in children)
Surgery for UC is curative and reduces the risk of colon cancer.
Fecal transplantation may be used to treat UC.
There are no current guidelines to prevent UC.
American Gastroenterological Society
Crohn's & Colitis Foundation
http://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Crohn's and Colitis Canada
D'Haens GR, Sartor RB, Silverberg MS, Petersson J, Rutgeerts P. Future directions in inflammatory bowel disease management. 2014;8(8):726-734.
Richman S, Schub T. Ulcerative colitis. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated August 2012. Accessed October 3, 2017.
Ulcerative colitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
. Updated July 28, 2017. Accessed October 3, 2017.
Wedlake L, Slack N, Andreyev HJ, Whelan K. Fiber in the treatment and maintenance of inflammatory bowel disease: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2014;20(3):576-586.
What is ulcerative colitis? Crohn's & Colitis Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed October 3, 2017.
8/31/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance Update
: Moayyedi P, Surette MG, Kim PT, et al. Fecal microbiota transplantation induces remission in patients with active ulcerative colitis in a randomized controlled trial. Gastroenterology. 2015;149(1):102-109.
Last reviewed September 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daus Mahnke, MD Last Updated: 8/31/2015