Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis (“UC”) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the mucosa of the large bowel and rectum characterised by symptoms of bloody diarrhoea.  See also Crohns Disease. See also irritable bowel syndrome.


Frequent, mucousy, diarrhoea (up to 20 times a day) which may contain streaks of blood

Abdominal cramping

Fever, malaise, loss of appetite and weight


Diagnosis is mainly on history and the presence of blood in the stool specimen. Culturing the stools for micro-organisms is necessary to rule out an infectious cause of bloody diarrhoea. The diagnosis is established by sigmoidoscopy, where the bowel is visualised directly.

Medical treatment

Sulphasalazine to reduce inflammation

Steroids (eg Prednisolone) to reduce inflammation


Special diets (eg avoidance of high fibre foods, raw fruits and vegetables)

Surgical treatment for cases where tablets are not enough

Colectomy (removal of the large bowel)

Hemi-colectomy (removal of part of the large bowel)


The cause is unknown.

Two main age groups are especially affected, with diagnoses most common between the ages of 15 and 25 and the ages of 50 and 70.  It is most common in whites and European Jews. In the United States, 7 people per 100,000 people are diagnosed as having UC annually.

Support Groups

National Association for Colitis and Crohn's Disease (UK)
4 Beaumont House
Sutton Road
St Albans
Herts  AL1 5HH
United Kingdom


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