Symptoms

Patients with ulcerative colitis may experience a variety of symptoms including:
Abdominal cramps and pain
Diarrhea
Rectal pain and bleeding
Fatigue
Weight loss
Loose and urgent bowel movements

Diagnosis Journey

Learn more about how people who are experiencing signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis can be diagnosed.
When to see your doctor
If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms below, it may be time to visit your doctor: 
  • Change in bowel movements
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in your stool
  • Ongoing diarrhea
  • An unexplained fever lasting more than a day or two
Process for diagnosis
There are tests that doctors perform to confirm a diagnosis of UC, including:
Endoscopic procedures
  • Colonoscopy - a procedure to look at the inside of the colon and rectum using a colonoscope, which is a long, flexible tube with a small video camera at the end.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – a procedure that involves inserting a sigmoidoscope, which is a thin, flexible tube, into the rectum to examine the lower portion of the large intestine.
Lab tests
  • Blood tests – can indicate whether you have signs of infection or have anemia, a disease in which there aren't enough red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to tissues.
  • Stool tests – can indicate whether white blood cells or certain proteins are present in your stool, both of which may be signs of ulcerative colitis. This test can also detect infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

If you feel that you are not receiving adequate treatment, don't be afraid to explore other physicians and specialists in order to get the care you need.

Specialists

John Smith, MD

Gastroenterologist • Nashville, TN

Link
John Smith, MD

Gastroenterologist • Nashville, TN

Link
John Smith, MD

Gastroenterologist • Nashville, TN

Link
John Smith, MD

Gastroenterologist • Nashville, TN

Link
John Smith, MD

Gastroenterologist • Nashville, TN

Link
John Smith, MD

Gastroenterologist • Nashville, TN

Link

Registered doctors

John Smith, MD

Gastroenterologist • Nashville, TN

Link
John Smith, MD

Gastroenterologist • Nashville, TN

Link
John Smith, MD

Gastroenterologist • Nashville, TN

Link
John Smith, MD

Gastroenterologist • Nashville, TN

Link
John Smith, MD

Gastroenterologist • Nashville, TN

Link
John Smith, MD

Gastroenterologist • Nashville, TN

Link

Treatment Options and Ongoing Research

More research into effective ulcerative colitis treatment options is critical. By taking part in research and clinical studies, you can assist other patients who would benefit from advanced research and new treatments.

Check out this video to hear from a doctor and an ulcerative colitis patient who enrolled in a clinical study at Carilion Clinic.
Disclaimer: Please note no copyright infringement is intended, and PatientWing did not create this video. The video was created by Carilion Clinic.

Current Research Studies

Check out our featured study below. If the GLADIATOR UC Study is not right for you, there are over 200 ulcerative colitis research studies that are actively recruiting participants. Search the site below to find UC research studies near you:
Visit Clinicaltrials.gov

Featured Study

GLADIATOR UC Study
If you are currently in flare with moderate ulcerative colitis, you may be eligible to participate in the GLADIATOR UC Study, which may provide relief from moderate UC symptoms.
Learn More

Medications

While no known cure exists, treatment and medications can greatly reduce signs and symptoms of UC.
Check out these medications below that can help treat UC:
Aminosalicylates (5-ASA)
This drug can be taken topically (via the rectum) or orally to reduce inflammation in the bowel lining.
Steroids
Steroids can help quickly reduce inflammation during a flare-up and can be taken orally or through an IV.
Immunosuppressants
Immunosuppressants slow your immune system to stop the immune response that is causing the colon and rectum to swell. These can be taken orally or by injection.
Biologic medicines
Biologic medicines block parts of the immune system, reducing more severe inflammation. These can be taken through injection or an IV and usually are used in combination with an immunosuppressant.
Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors
This is a medicine that blocks JAKs, which are proteins that activate the body’s immune response. These can be taken orally, usually for patients with moderate to severe UC.

Surgery

In some cases, surgery may be recommended for patients with UC to help alleviate ulcerative colitis symptoms. Learn more about a few surgery options for people with UC below:

  • Proctocolectomy: removal of the colon and rectum.
  • Proctocolectomy with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (J-pouch surgery): The colon and rectum are removed, and an internal pouch is created, eliminating the need for a permanent external ostomy.
  • Proctocolectomy with end ileostomy: The colon, rectum, and anus are removed, and an end ileostomy is created to allow waste to exit the body into an external ostomy bag. Patients wear the ostomy bag and empty it several times per day.

Diet and lifestyle changes could also be necessary for treatment

Some foods may make symptoms worse when the condition is active, but diet does not cause ulcerative colitis. Your doctor might suggest dietary changes depending on your symptoms, as well as vitamins and dietary supplements.

Resources

Find an online community of fellow UC patients, caregivers, and advocates below as well as some other general resources!

Achieving Remission from Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
This group is a science-based group for people suffering from IBD and searching for evidence-based discussions regarding strategies to achieve remission.
Ulcerative Colitis Support Group (Global)
The UC Support Group (Global) aims to help people with UC find a way to communicate and help one another by sharing information about how they deal with this condition.
Reddit Group: r/UlcerativeColitis 
A Reddit community for patients and caregivers affected by ulcerative colitis to share experiences and get support.
Girls With Guts
Girls With Guts is a nonprofit organization supporting women with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis) and/or ostomies.
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They focus on improving the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases.
Color of Crohn’s & Chronic Illness
COCCI is an advocacy group whose mission is to improve the quality of life for black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) who are affected by IBD, digestive disorders, and associated chronic illnesses through community, research, education, and advocacy.
Learn More
Plenty and Well
Plenty and Well is a website created by Natalie Kelly who was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2017. This website hosts information about Natalie's service called Path to Empowered Acceptance where she helps coach people on their chronic illness journeys. There is also other content on this website including Natalie's blog, podcast, recipes, and business coaching information.
Learn More
About IBD
On the About IBD podcast, Amber talks to caregivers and people living with IBD to share their journey. She also interviews healthcare providers and other experts to get their take on a variety of topics, such as IBD research, improving relationships with physicians, becoming a critical thinker, and how to get involved in healthcare activism.
Learn More

Ulcerative Colitis and Your Mental Health
Learn more about the link between mental health and chronic diseases such as IBD by reading the article below.

Learn More

Your Ultimate Guide for UC Support
Check out the ultimate online guide for UC support.

Learn More

Pfizer Ulcerative Colitis Drug Leads to Remission in a Third of Patients – Study

Check out this article discussing results from a research study that is studying the drug, etrasimod, that helps treat ulcerative colitis symptoms.

Learn More

Vedolizumab Continues to Perform Well In Ulcerative Colitis Patient Subgroups

Learn more about the drug, vedolizumab, and how it has benefited two separate patient sub-groups with ulcerative colitis.

Learn More

FAQs

What causes UC?
The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown.
What is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?
IBD causes chronic inflammation of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are the two most common types of IBD.
Are men or women more affected by ulcerative colitis?
UC affects about the same number of men and women.
Will ulcerative colitis ever go away?
UC is a chronic illness; therefore, you'll live with it for the rest of your life. People, however, can experience periods of remission, where they experience no symptoms at all, to flare-ups, where they experience active symptoms.
Can UC be cured?
There is no cure for UC currently, but there are treatment options available to reduce signs and symptoms of the disease.
View Treatment Options
What is a good diet plan to follow?
There is no diet that is effective for all UC patients. Based on the specific requirements of each patient, dietary guidelines may be created. The goal is to maintain a nutrient-rich, well-balanced diet.
Does stress contribute to ulcerative colitis symptoms?
Stress does not cause ulcerative colitis. Emotional stress or stressful situations may lead to flare-ups of symptoms for some people with UC.
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