Overview, Symptoms & Causes of
Ulcerative Colitis


Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the rectum and extends in a way to involve the entire colon in the most serious cases (pan colitis). The inflammation affects the colonic mucosa and rarely the small intestine, especially the final part that is called “ileum”.

The inflammation causes ulcers that affect the whole gut. Inflammation and ulcers characteristic of ulcerative colitis generate diarrhea with pus and blood that can persist for days, weeks or months. Usually the symptoms that characterize ulcerative colitis include diarrhea with mucus and blood, cramping, tenesmus (urgency to defecate), weight loss, weakness and fatigue due to anemia.

The diagnosis of this inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is through the symptoms and clinical signs of patients, endoscopy, intestinal biopsy and X-ray. It is very important the doctor do a differential diagnosis by imaging. Ulcerative colitis can be confused with other diseases that present with diarrhea such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease.

There are marked differences between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC). Ulcerative colitis affects the entire bowel continuously from the rectum. It affects the lining of the bowel wall. Courses with remissions and relapses, it presents with common rectal bleeding and loss of pus, the nutritional deficit is acute (water and minerals lost in diarrhea episodes and also weight loss).

Crohn’s disease mainly affects the small intestine and most commonly the ileum; however, it can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus. The swelling occurs deeper throughout the bowel wall than colitis. It is progressive and presents with diarrhea and steatorrhea (loss of fat in feces). The accompanying pain is colicky. More often, complications include an anal abscess and a narrowing of the intestine (stenosis).

Ulcerative colitis is generally found in younger people, before they reach age 30. But the disease can also occur in people in their 60s and later in life. It affects both men and women equally, and there is a familial predisposition to its development. There are an estimated 2 million people in the United States who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease.

Symptoms Of Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative Colitis occurs as a disorder with recurrent episodes of diarrhea with mucus and blood that can persist for days, weeks or months then gives way without symptoms and reappears after an interval of months, years or even decades (almost all patients have at least one recurrence every ten years).
In most cases the first sign of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is diarrhea with blood and mucus with pain and cramping in the lower abdomen that is usually relieved by defecation, and accompanied by fever, weight loss and general weakness, anemia due to blood loss. Often the symptoms of Ulcerative colitis are preceded by a stressful period.

Due to inflammatory bowel diseases, complications in other organs can be developed:

  • vision problems or eye pain
  • joint problems
  • neck or lower back pain
  • skin rashes
  • liver and kidney problems

Causes Of Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a disease of unknown or idiopathic cause. According to research conducted by scientists, there is a cause that triggers the disease, but inflammation is the result of the body’s immune system reacting potentially to a virus or bacteria.

There are several predisposing factors that increase the risk of developing the disease. Inflammatory bowel disease triggers include;

Genetic Predisposition Or Family History

People who have a first degree relative suffering from inflammatory bowel disease are more likely to develop the disease.

Infectious Causes

Pathogens have been identified as possible causes of ulcerative colitis. Currently, the proposed candidate as the cause of this inflammatory bowel disease has been mycobacterium para tuberculosis, but the evidence is still ambiguous. Virus had also been found in patient’s tissues with ulcerative colitis, but failed to determine that this is the cause of the disease.

Inflammatory Process

The hypothesis is that a primary disease process would produce an inadequate exposure of the intestinal system to specific antigens resulting in immune-mediated reaction. The fact that treatment with corticosteroids produced significant clinical improvement affirms this theory.


Smoking doubles the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease, especially Crohn’s disease. The risk is lower in the case of ulcerative colitis.

Psychological Factors

Although there is little evidence that a characteristic personality may be the cause of ulcerative colitis it is known to influence the course of the disease and that emotional factors largely determine the control of symptoms and response to treatment.

Food Allergy

Not yet proven.

As a consequence of the interaction of these factors and, possibly others not yet found, inflammation develops as a result of activation of inflammatory cells whose products cause tissue nonspecific injury.

Long Distance Telephone Appointments

If you are not local to the clinic, Michelle can conduct telephone appointments with you very easily. So if you are anywhere in North America, you can now successfully receive high end, specialized help for your Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. If you are local to the clinic in Hamilton, Toronto or Mississauga Ontario – by all means come in for your appointment. If not, telephone appointments are very popular and convenient.

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