Ulcerative Colitis: The Basics
Ulcerative Colitis is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD. The other form of IBD is called Crohn’s Disease, which you can read about here. Read more about IBD in general here, and remember that IBD is very different from IBS, which stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which you can read about here.
Unlike Crohn’s Disease which can involve any part of the digestive tract, Ulcerative Colitis ONLY involves the large intestine (also called the colon – hence the term “colitis”). Inflammation starts at the rectum, and works its way up. Some people have Ulcerative Colitis that is limited to just a few centimeters within the rectum, while others can have their entire colon involved.
Symptoms can range from urgent and more frequent stools, to full blown bloody diarrhea. Some people experience a spasm feeling in the rectum, like they have to have a bowel movement, but may only pass air, blood or mucous, and even feel constipated.
Lastly, symptoms of IBD aren’t limited to the digestive tract. IBD can cause fevers, low blood counts and poor nutrition, which can lead to weight loss and feelings of low energy and fatigue. Sometimes people with IBD can develop rashes, skin lesions, and problems with their eyes and joints.
If you are having symptoms or are concerned about IBD, you should consult with you doctor to see if any further testing is warranted.