Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum.
Inflammatory bowel disease - ulcerative colitis; IBD - ulcerative colitis
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. People with this condition have problems with the immune system, but it is not clear whether immune problems cause this illness. Although stress and certain foods can trigger symptoms, they do not cause ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative colitis may affect any age group, although there are peaks at ages 15 - 30 and then again at ages 50 - 70.
The disease usually begins in the rectal area, and may involve the entire large intestine over time.
Risk factors include a family history of ulcerative colitis, or Jewish ancestry.
Review Date: 12/13/2010
Reviewed By: George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.