May also be called: UC
Ulcerative colitis (UL-sur-uh-tiv koh-LY-tis) is an inflammatory disease of the large intestine, or colon. It causes the inner lining of the intestine to become irritated and swollen and develop ulcers.
Doctors aren't sure of the exact cause of UC, but many factors are thought to be involved, including diet, genetics, the immune system, and environmental factors. If the lining of the colon and rectum become inflamed and develop ulcers, a person can have abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, mucus in the stool (poop), and other symptoms.
The loss of fluid and nutrients from diarrhea and chronic inflammation of the bowel can cause weight loss, dehydration, and malnutrition. If untreated, ulcerative colitis can lead to more severe complications and may increase the risk of colorectal cancer over time.
Medications or sometimes surgery can help control symptoms associated with UC and may offer long-term relief. Great progress is being made in the development of treatments for UC. By sticking to a treatment program and leading a healthy lifestyle, most people with ulcerative colitis can enjoy a productive, normal life.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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