Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease. It usually begins in your rectum but can also affect your colon.
The condition causes inflammation and ulcers (small holes) in the lining of your rectum and colon. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis can include:
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Diarrhoea (sometimes with blood)
- Frequent, urgent need to move your bowels
- Feeling very tired
- Loss of appetite
Ulcerative colitis is usually a chronic condition meaning you may have it long-term. However it is not unusual to have long periods of good health alternating between times when your symptoms reoccur.
How is ulcerative colitis diagnosed?
If your GP suspects you have ulcerative colitis they can confirm the diagnosis with a blood test. They may also perform tests on your stool to confirm signs of inflammation.
If inflammation is confirmed you will be referred to a specialist consultant for a test to look directly into your colon. One of two types of scans may be performed;
Your consultant may also take a biopsy (sample of tissue) for analysis in a lab.
How is ulcerative colitis treated?
Treatment for ulcerative colitis depends on how severity of your symptoms and what area of your rectum and/or colon is affected. Your consultant may prescribe medication to control your symptoms. In many cases medication does reduce or eliminate the symptoms. If conservative treatment is unsuccessful your consultant may recommend surgery.