Ulcerative Colitis

Knowing more about your Ulcerative Colitis can help you to feel better informed and able to take a more active part in decisions about your treatment.

We hope this booklet will give you and your family and friends a better understanding of Ulcerative Colitis and how it is treated.

Ulcerative Colitis is a condition that causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the colon and rectum (the large bowel). Inflammation is the body’s reaction to irritation, injury or infection, and can cause redness, swelling and pain. In Colitis, ulcers develop on the surface of the bowel lining and these may bleed and produce mucus.

The inflammation usually begins in the rectum and lower colon, but it may affect the entire colon. If Colitis only affects the rectum, it is called proctitis.

Ulcerative Colitis is one of the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, so may also be called ‘IBD’. The other main form of IBD is a condition known as Crohn’s Disease.

Colitis is sometimes described as a chronic condition. This means that it is ongoing and lifelong, although you may have long periods of good health known as remission, as well relapses or flare-ups when your symptoms are more active. Everyone is different – in many people the disease is mild with few flare-ups, while other people may have more severe disease.

At present there is no cure for Ulcerative Colitis, but drugs, and sometimes surgery, can give long periods of relief from symptoms. Research, including work funded by Crohn’s & Colitis UK, is continuing into new treatments to improve patients’ quality of life and eventually find a cure. 

How does Ulcerative Colitis affect the gut?
What are the main symptoms?
How will Ulcerative Colitis affect my life?
How common is Ulcerative Colitis
What causes Ulcerative Colitis?
What are the main types of Ulcerative Colitis?
Can Ulcerative Colitis have complications within the bowel?
Can Ulcerative Colitis affect other parts of the body?
How is Ulcerative Colitis diagnosed?
Will I need repeated tests?
What drugs are used to treat Ulcerative Colitis?
Other medications and over-the-counter drugs
What about surgical treatment?
How does Ulcerative Colitis affect children and young people?
Does Ulcerative Colitis run in families?
Living with Colitis
Help and support from Crohn's & Colitis UK
How we write our information

Last reviewed: June 2017