What Is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that mostly affects the large intestine (colon). A special feature of ulcerative colitis is that it always starts in the rectum. The inflammation is also continuous, which means there are no skipped areas like there can be in Crohn’s disease.

What Are the Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?

  • diarrhea (sometimes with blood or pus)
  • abdominal and/or rectal pain
  • rectal bleeding
  • urgency to defecate
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • fever

What Are the Possible Complications of Ulcerative Colitis?

  • Severe bleeding (may lead to iron deficiency anemia)
  • A hole in the colon (perforated colon)
  • Severe dehydration
  • Liver disease (rare)
  • Bone loss (osteoporosis)
  • Inflammation of your skin, joints and eyes, and sores in the lining of your mouth
  • An increased risk of colon cancer
  • A rapidly swelling colon (toxic megacolon)
  • Increased risk of blood clots in veins and arteries

What Are the Types of Ulcerative Colitis?

  • Proctitis

    This type of ulcerative colitis is when the very end of the large intestine is inflamed.

  • Left-Sided Colitis

    This type of ulcerative colitis is when one-third of the large intestine is inflamed.

  • Extensive Colitis

    This type of ulcerative colitis is when the inflammation stretches over half of the large intestine.

  • Pancolitis

    This type of ulcerative colitis is when there is inflammation that involves the entire large intestine.


How Often Should My Child Have a Colonoscopy?

Children with ulcerative colitis (and Crohn’s disease) often will have colonoscopies when their symptoms increase and your doctor is discussing changing the treatment.

In addition, people with colitis (either from ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease) have an increased risk of colon cancer over the course of their lifetime. It is recommended to start screening colonoscopies 7 to 8 years after the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis (or Crohn’s disease of the large intestine) and to have them at regular intervals. This test should be done even if your child is feeling well. Factors that increase the risk of colon cancer are a larger area of inflammation, how long the inflammation has been there and some liver problems associated with colitis.

Learn more about ulcerative colitis

Rev. 11/2013

This document is intended to provide health related information so that you may be better informed. It is not a substitute for a doctor's medical advice and should not be relied upon for treatment for specific medical conditions.