Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers in the colon. The disease is a type of colitis, which is a group of diseases that cause inflammation of the colon, the largest section of the large intestine, either in segments or completely. The main symptom of active disease is diarrhea mixed with blood.
Ulcerative colitis has much in common with Crohn’s disease, another form of IBD, but what sets it apart from Crohn’s disease is that ulcerative colitis, as its name suggests, only affects the colon and rectum, leaving the rest of the gastrointestinal tract unscathed, while Crohn’s disease can affect the whole GI tract from mouth to anus. Also, surgical removal of the colon and rectum cures ulcerative colitis, which actually means the disease does not recur after surgery, unlike Crohn’s disease, which has a tendency to recur after surgery to remove the abnormal part of the bowel and connect the healthy ends. Ulcerative colitis is an intermittent disease, with periods of exacerbated symptoms, and periods that are relatively symptom-free. Although the symptoms of ulcerative colitis can sometimes diminish on their own, the disease usually requires treatment to go into remission. Ulcerative colitis has anincidence of 1 to 20 cases per 100,000 individuals per year, and a prevalence of 8 to 246 per 100,000 individuals.