What is Ulcerative Colitis?



UC is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the colon, or large intestine. It is also referred to as an inflammatory bowel disease. The inflammation sometimes occurs only in the lower part of the colon and the rectum, but it may also affect the entire colon. The most common symptoms of UC are diarrhea and bleeding.

Although the exact cause of inflammatory bowel diseases like UC is not yet known, extensive research has been conducted in this area. It is believed that UC occurs when the patient's immune system inappropriately responds to something it perceives to be a foreign substance in the body (i.e., the bacteria normally found in the colon). Once triggered, this abnormal immune response leads to inflammation and intestinal damage.

Although this disease usually develops between the ages of 15 and 30, UC can occur at any age. Some people don't experience their first attack until they are between the ages of 50 and 70.  Overall about one million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disease: approximately half with Ulcerative Colitis and half with Crohn's disease.  Ulcerative colitis can be diagnosed by a colonoscopy.

Some Common Symptoms are: