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Ulcerative colitis

  • Alternative Names

    Inflammatory bowel disease - ulcerative colitis; IBD - ulcerative colitis


    The symptoms vary in severity and may start slowly or suddenly. About half of people only have mild symptoms. Others have more severe attacks that occur more often. Many factors can lead to attacks, including respiratory infections or physical stress.

    Symptoms include:

    • Abdominal pain and cramping that usually disappears after a bowel movement
    • Abdominal sounds (a gurgling or splashing sound heard over the intestine)
    • Blood and pus in the stools
    • Diarrhea, from only a few episodes to very often throughout the day
    • Fever
    • Tenesmus (rectal pain)
    • Weight loss

    Children's growth may slow.

    Other symptoms that may occur with ulcerative colitis include the following:

    • Gastrointestinal bleeding
    • Joint pain
    • Mouth sores (ulcers)
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Skin lumps or ulcers

    Signs and tests

    Colonoscopy with biopsy is generally used to diagnose ulcerative colitis.

    Colonoscopy is also used to screen people with ulcerative colitis for colon cancer. Ulcerative colitis increases the risk of colon cancer. If you have this condition, you should be screened with colonoscopy about 8 - 12 years after being diagnosed. You should have a follow-up colonoscopy every 1 - 2 years.

    Other tests that may be done to help diagnose this condition include:

    • Barium enema
    • Complete blood count (CBC)
    • C-reactive protein (CRP)
    • Sedimentation rate (ESR)