What is it?
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, recurring disease of the large bowel, also known as the colon. When ulcerative colitis affects the colon, inflammation and sores develop in the lining of the colon. The disease may involve the entire colon, just the rectum, or an area between the colon and rectum, which is most common.
Who's at Risk?
Men and women of all ages and races can have ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative colitis begins gradually and is characterized by crampy abdominal pain and by diarrhea that is sometimes bloody. Those who have the disease also become weak because of weight loss and loss of appetite. Symptoms tend to come and go, and there are often long periods of time when an individual has no symptoms at all. The symptoms do, however, come back.
Blood and stool tests are performed to rule out infections that mimic the disease. A visual examination of the lining of the rectum and lower colon or of the entire colon takes place as well.