Ulcerative Colitis

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What is ulcerative colitis?

One of the two main forms of inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcerative colitis is the chronic inflammation of the large intestine or colon. In ulcerative colitis, the inflammation starts in the rectum and spread into the colon continuously. 

Types of ulcerative colitis

There are a few different types of ulcerative colitis depending on the area of the colon affected.  

  • Ulcerative proctitis: The inflammation only occurs in the rectum. Because of its limited area of diseased bowel, ulcerative proctitis is usually a milder form of UC
  • Proctosigmoiditis: The affected area includes the rectum and sigmoid colon
  • Left-sided colitis: In this type of ulcerative colitis, the inflammation starts at the rectum and continues as far as the splenic flexure
  • Pancolitis: The entire colon is affected

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis  

Inflammation and ulceration in the intestine lining prevents the colon from being able to absorb water in the materials that pass through it. This leads to many common symptoms of ulcerative colitis including:  

  • Diarrhea or loose stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bowel urgency
  • Blood in the stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Outside of the intestine, ulcerative colitis can lead to many symptoms in other parts of the body such as:

  • Itchiness, redness and pain in the eyes
  • Mouth sores
  • Swollen joints
  • Sores and rashes on the skin
  • Osteoporosis
  • Kidney stones

Causes of ulcerative colitis

The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is still unknown. Medical research has identified three main contributing factors in the development of ulcerative colitis including:

  • The immune system initiating an inflammatory response against the digestive tract when it should not be
  • Environmental
  • Genetics