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Ulcerative colitis

  • Definition

    Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum.

    See also: Crohn's disease


    Alternative Names

    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.