Ulcerative Colitis


Does a trip to the restroom cause you pain and anxiety? You may have a form of ulcerative colitis, an incurable form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes the innermost lining of the colon and rectum to become inflamed and ulcerated, resulting in severe diarrhea and abdominal pain. Ulcerative colitis is caused by an abnormal response from your body's immune system.


The types of ulcerative colitis depend on where it occurs in the body. There are several types of ulcerative colitis, and symptoms vary depending on the location. The types of ulcerative colitis include:

  • Ulcerative proctitis: The mildest form of ulcerative colitis; inflammation is in the rectal area and causes rectal pain and bleeding and the feeling of needing to go to the bathroom urgently.  
  • Proctosigmoiditis: The inflammation is in the rectum and lower area of the colon, and causes stomach pain and cramping, bloody diarrhea and trouble going to the bathroom despite the urge to go. 
  • Left-sided colitis: The inflammation extends from the rectum through the sigmoid and descending colon, in the upper-left abdomen, and causes stomach pain and cramping on left side, bloody diarrhea and weight loss.
  • Pancolitis: Inflammation of the entire colon that causes stomach pain and cramping, bloody diarrhea, significant weight loss and tiredness. 
  • Fulminant colitis: The rarest form of ulcerative colitis, this inflammation of the entire colon can be life-threatening. It can cause extreme diarrhea, dehydration and shock. 
Talk to your doctor if you have diarrhea plus stomach pain, blood in your stool or a fever that lasts more than a couple of days or that doesn’t get better with over-the-counter medications.


First, you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam. You’ll talk about your symptoms and then your doctor may order tests, such as:

  • Blood tests
  • Fecal occult blood test (to find out if you have blood in stool)
  • Sigmoidoscopy to examine the lower colon and rectum. A flexible tube is inserted in the anus to see inside the digestive system
  • Colonoscopy: A flexible tube is inserted in the anus to see inside the colon
  • Capsule endoscopy  
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scan
  • Barium enema X-ray: An enema coats the lining of the bowls with a dye (barium), which helps show the rectum, colon and part of the intestine on X-rays
  • Double balloon endoscopy: An endoscope (long tube) is inserted down the throat to see from the esophagus to the colon

Services & Treatment

If you are diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, your Aurora care team will work with you to find the best treatment options. This may include medications, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Immune system suppressor drugs
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-diarrheal drugs
  • Pain relieving drugs
  • Iron supplements
If medication doesn’t help, your doctor may recommend surgery.

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