Definition

An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers (sores) in the digestive tract. Inflammation is generally found in the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum

Also Known As

Types

Ulcerative colitis is usually classified according to location:

  • Ulcerative proctitis. Inflammation is confined the rectum (mildest form).
  • Proctosigmoiditis. Inflammation involves the rectum and sigmoid colon (lower end of the colon).
  • Left-sided colitis. Inflammation extends from the rectum up through the sigmoid and descending colon.
  • Pancolitis. Pancolitis often affects the entire colon.
  • Acute severe ulcerative colitis. Affects the entire colon (very rare).

Causes

The exact cause of Ulcerative Colitis is unknown. The disease may be due to an auto-immune reaction.

Statistics

  • Ulcerative colitis is diagnosed in 9-20 people per 100,000 per year.

Risk Factors

  • Age. Ulcerative Colitis is usually diagnosed in adults before age 30.
  • Ethnicity. Caucasians and those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have the highest risk of developing UC.
  • Family History

Prevention

There is no known prevention for Ulcerative Colitis, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of a flare-up, manage symptoms, and reduce discomfort.

  • Diet. Avoid foods that increase discomfort (i.e. high-fiber foods) during a flare up. Talk to a doctor about the elimination diet or keeping a food diary.
  • Increase water intake.
  • Decrease caffeine and alcohol intake.
  • Talk to a doctor about taking nutrition supplements.
  • Manage stress.
  • Eat frequent, smaller meals.

Vaccines

The CDC recommends that all adults keep their vaccinations up to date. Childhood immunizations may wear off after time and need a “booster shot,” and you are at risk for other diseases as an adult.

All adults need:

  • Influenza – recommended every year, age 6 months and older
  • Tdap – (if an adult did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

Additionally, the CDC recommends the following vaccines for adults suffering from some types of GI disorder (talk to your doctor about which vaccines are right for you):

COVID-19 and Ulcerative Colitis

Check out the IBD Guidance from the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation.

Resources

Support Groups