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Ulcerative colitis

The term intestinal inflammatory illness, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD),includes two disorders of unknown etiology: ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, which are defined by clinical, radiologic, endoscopic and histological criteria. Both are chronic with bouts of inflammatory activity.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease of the large colon, the largest section of the large intestine. It generally begins in the area of the rectum and finally spreads through all the large intestine.

For unknown reasons, it evolves in bouts of variable intensity and duration. It can be harmful in any age group although there are peaks in ages 15 -30 and again in 50 -70. It affects 10 - 15 persons in 100,000.


The most frequent symptoms are

  • Diarrhea, often with blood or pus
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Rectal pain
  • Rectal bleeding — passing small amount of blood with stool
  • Urgency to defecate
  • Inability to defecate despite urgency
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • In children, failure to grow


Ulcerative colitis cannot be prevented, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Dietary changes, including avoiding certain foods (e.g., dairy products, cabbage, broccoli, beans, spicy foods) and increasing dietary fiber, may help in some cases. Other foods that may increase ulcerative colitis symptoms include raw fruits, popcorn, alcohol, coffee, chocolate, and soda.

Patients who have ulcerative colitis should eat small, frequent meals. If the condition is active, bland, soft foods may cause less discomfort. Patients should also be sure to drink plenty of liquids, especially water. A daily multivitamin may be helpful, as colitis interferes with proper absorption of nutrients. Patients should consult a nutritionist or dietician if food restrictions or limitations become difficult to manage.

Although stress does not cause ulcerative colitis, it does have a proven effect on the digestive system. High stress levels can cause the stomach to empty more slowly and produce more acid.

Ulcerative colitis can cause emotional problems—the need to constantly use the bathroom can lead to anxiety, embarrassment, social isolation, and eventually depression. Patients who feel that they may be depressed should seek counseling or contact a health care provider.

Exercise, even mild exercise such as walking, can help reduce stress. Biofeedback techniques, yoga, meditation, and hypnosis can be used to reduce muscle tension and slow heart rate. Engaging in enjoyable activities, such as reading, music, or a warm bath at night, can help reduce stress and relieve symptoms of ulcerative colitis.


  • See a doctor if you have intestinal pain and anal bleeding
  • Do not use medicines not prescribed by your doctor
  • If diagnosed positively for UC, follow the treatment prescribed as not only will it alleviate the symptoms and improve the prognosis, it may prevent future bouts of the disease and avoid possible complications.
  • Patients who have been treated with corticoids for a period of time, will need calcium and vitamin D. They may also need iron or vitamen B12 supplements.

Gene or region studied

  • IL23R
  • 6p21.32
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