Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a common Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). Although there is currently no cure for IBD, the symptoms they cause can be treated following diagnosis. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are thought to affect 300,000 people in the UK.

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What is Ulcerative Colitis?

It is an inflammatory condition of the colon (large bowel) and/or rectum. The extent and severity of colitis determine how severe your symptoms are likely to be. Symptoms appear to be triggered by an exaggerated immune response in the colon. The underlying cause isn’t fully understood, although genetics and immune dysfunction are thought to be contributory, along with environmental factors such as where you live, stress and smoking.

Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

Symptoms can range and are often mild so it is essential to see a GI doctor for accurate diagnosis and treatment. Your digestive doctor will look at your symptoms in order to diagnose ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis symptoms can include:

  • Diarrhoea often with blood
  • Bloody stools, or blood when going for a poo
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pains
  • Tiredness
  • Bloating
  • A low-grade fever
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss
  • Pain around the anal areas
ulcerative-colitis symptoms
IBD Diagnosis and Tests

A gastroenterologist carries out investigations to diagnose IBD, including Crohn’s and colitis. Whilst IBD can arise in people of any age, it is commonly diagnosed between the age of 15 and 30. There are an estimated 5 million people that suffer from IBD, around the world, with 300,000 in the UK alone.


Diagnostic tests vary according to your symptoms, but may include:

  • Blood and stool tests
  • A colonoscopy, which is a specific type of endoscopy that allows the doctor to explore inside your bowel
  • Upper GI endoscopy is used to look for problems in the upper gastrointestinal tract
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy used to examine the lower end of your colon

Many cases are not diagnosed as symptoms cause embarrassment that can result in people not seeking the help they need and deserve. If you have been suffering in silence, seek the medical attention you deserve. Accurate diagnosis of IBD is vital as symptoms that are left untreated can develop into wider health issues, and treatment is generally more successful the earlier it begins.

Ulcerative Colitis Treatment
Whilst there is no cure for IBD medication can be extremely useful in managing your symptoms Most patients can expect an improvement in their symptoms and quality of life once the correct treatments have been started.

Medication typically includes:

  • Aminosalicylates (5-ASAs)
  • Steroids
  • Thiopurines
  • Biologic agents

If the inflammation cannot be halted sufficiently with medication, and it results in narrowing of the bowel (stricturing) causing increased pain, surgery may be required. During surgery, the inflamed or narrowed part of the bowel may need to be removed. The extent of surgery depends on which part of the bowel is affected, and what is the best option for the patient. This decision is taken after appropriate radiological investigations have been performed and following multi-disciplinary discussion.

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Doctors Who Can Treat Ulcerative Colitis
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