Ulcerative Colitis: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a long lasting inflammation of large intestine (colon) that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the lining of the rectum and colon. It is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It usually affects the lower section (sigmoid colon) and the rectum. But it can affect the entire colon. IBD is different from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). The different types of ulcerative colitis are classified according to location and extent of inflammation.
 Ulcerative colitis

Recovery Time

  • It is not curable but controlled
  • Ulcerative colitis is a lifelong condition, unless the large intestine is surgically removed
  • If a person had undergone surgery, he/she may recover in 2-3 months


  • Blood tests
  • Stool samples
  • Colonoscopy
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Barium enema
  • X-ray
  • CT scan

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  How does diet affect the management of ulcerative colitis?
It is important, especially in children, to maintain a healthy, balanced nutritional intake. No general dietary recommendations exist, except for the avoidance of milk and milk products for patients with lactose intolerance. Common sense suggests that foods prone to induce more frequent bowel movements, such as caffeine, alcohol, red pepper and laxative fruits (prunes, fresh cherries and peaches), should be avoided. In patients with constipation, added bulk in the form of psyllium or bran may be helpful.

Q2.  How can I have healthy pregnancy in ulcerative colitis?
The most important thing you can do is get active UC under control and into remission before trying to get pregnant. If you get pregnant while the disease is still active, there s a good chance your symptoms will continue or get worse during pregnancy.
Active UC flare-ups can leave you underweight and without the nutrients you need to get pregnant and carry a baby to term. Being underweight makes having a miscarriage in the first trimester much more likely. If you are underweight, your baby could be premature or underweight, too.
You should take a prenatal vitamin every day while you are trying to get pregnant and during pregnancy. Sometimes the iron in prenatal vitamins can be rough on your system, so you may need to try different formulations.
Be sure to get your iron levels checked, because women with UC are prone to anemia.
You may also need to take extra folic acid. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects,

Q3.  Can UC lead to cancer?
Patients with long-standing UC are at increased risk for developing colonic epithelial dysplasia and cancer. The risk of cancer in chronic UC increases with duration and extent of disease. Risk factors for cancer in UC include long-duration disease, extensive disease, family history of colon cancer, a colon stricture, and the presence of post inflammatory pseudo-polyps on colonoscopy.

Q4.  Is there anything I can do to reduce my risk of having cancer?
If you have ulcerative colitis, you may be able to help reduce your risk of bowel cancer by regularly taking certain medicines.
The best way of monitoring your condition is to have colonoscopies.
Your doctor may advise you to have a colonoscopy to check your bowel for early signs of cancer, eight to 10 years after your condition starts. A colonoscopy is a test where your doctor looks inside your bowel using a narrow, flexible, tube-like telescopic camera called a colonoscope.
Depending on the results of your colonoscopy, your doctor may suggest you have a colonoscopy every three years to start with. If you have had ulcerative colitis for 20 years or more, you may need to have a colonoscopy every year or two.

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