Ulcerative Colitis (UC)

UC affects up to 120,000 people in the UK, or 1 in 500 and between 6,000 and 12,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. It is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes long-lasting inflammation in part of the digestive tract.

Like Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis can be debilitating and sometimes can lead to life-threatening complications. It is a chronic condition: symptoms usually develop over time, rather than appearing suddenly. UC usually affects only the innermost lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum and, unlike Crohn’s, which can occur anywhere in the digestive tract and often spreads deeply into affected tissue, occurs only through continuous stretches of the colon.

There’s no known cure for Ulcerative Colitis, but therapies are available that may dramatically reduce symptoms and even bring about long-term remission.


Signs & Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

  • Abdominal pain

  • Blood and/or mucus in stool

  • Diarrhoea that does not respond to over-the-counter (OTC) medications

  • Unexplained fever lasting more than 1-2 days

Risk Factors 


UC usually begins before 30 years. But, it can occur at any age, and some people develop the disease in their 50s and 60s.

Race or ethnicity

Whites have a higher risk of the disease than other ethnicities, and persons of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have the highest risk.

Family history

Isotretinoin use

Isotretinoin is a medication sometimes used to treat scarring cystic acne or acne that doesn’t respond to other treatments. It used to be sold under the brand name Accutane, but that brand has been discontinued, and it’s now sold under the brand names Amnesteem, Claravis and Sotret. There is conflicting information as to whether isotretinoin use can increase the risk of IBD. Some studies have suggested a possible link, while other studies have found no such evidence.

UC Classification

Ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of inflammation and where it occurs. For these reasons, UC is often classified according to its location.


This form involves the rectum and the lower end of the colon, known as the sigmoid colon. Bloody diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and pain, and an inability to move the bowels in spite of the urge to do so (tenesmus) are common problems associated with this form of the disease.

Left-sided colitis

Inflammation extends from the rectum up through the sigmoid and descending colon, which are located in the upper left part of the abdomen. Signs and symptoms include bloody diarrhoea, abdominal cramping and pain on the left side, and unintended weight loss.

Ulcerative proctitis

Inflammation is confined to the area closest to the anus (rectum), and rectal bleeding may be the only sign of the disease. Other people may have rectal pain and a feeling of urgency. This form of UC tends to be the mildest.

Fulminant colitis

This rare, life-threatening form of colitis affects the entire colon and causes severe pain, profuse diarrhoea and, sometimes, dehydration and shock. People with fulminant colitis are at risk of serious complications, including colon rupture and toxic megacolon, a condition that causes the colon to rapidly expand.


Affecting more than the left colon and often the entire colon, pancolitis causes bouts of bloody diarrhoea that may be severe, abdominal cramps and pain, fatigue, and significant weight loss.

To get help or treatment for your IBS condition please contact us today.


To find out more and learn how we can help you, please contact us