A colon with several inflamed areas

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that primarily affects the digestive tract, but can also have an impact on other parts of the body. It can cause symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and an urgent need to empty the bowels. Symptoms can cycle through periods of remission and active disease.

Symptoms may differ from person to person, which can make diagnosis challenging. There are several medications that can treat ulcerative colitis.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes ulcerative colitis?

    The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is not known. Factors that may contribute to the condition include genetics, immune response, and environmental triggers. Smoking and certain medications, such as antibiotics and birth control pills, may also play a role in triggering the condition.

  • Is it possible to cure ulcerative colitis permanently?

    Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease for which there is no known cure. Symptoms seem to flare up and then go into remission off and on throughout a person’s life. Approximately 10% of people never experience another flare-up after the first one, but it is thought that in these cases, the diagnosis may have been incorrect.

  • Is ulcerative colitis an autoimmune disease?

    Yes. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system is triggered by something, such as bacteria or a virus. It goes into normal “attack” mode to eliminate the foreign invader, but instead of going back to normal, the immune system continues to attack other areas of the body. In ulcerative colitis, it is the intestine that is attacked.

  • What are the symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

    Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and an urgent need to empty the bowels. Symptoms tend to cycle through periods of remission and active disease. Diagnosing ulcerative colitis can be challenging, as symptoms may vary from person to person.

Key Terms

Colon polyp being removed
What's the Link Between Ulcerative Colitis and Colon Cancer?
Acupuncture for Ulcerative Colitis (UC)
A doctor explains an endoscopy exam to a patient with ulcerative proctitis
What Is Ulcerative Proctitis?
Young woman sitting on toilet and using smartphone
Find Relief From Ulcerative Colitis Constipation
Women hands preparing fresh big Aloe Vera leaf on rustic cutting board. Step by step. Aloe Vera gel making
7 Home Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis
Detail of a young woman in home clothes sitting on her sofa holding her lower stomach with both hands in pain leaning forwards.
Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms in Women
An illustration of the human digestive system microbiota.
Understanding What Ulcerative Colitis Is and How It Develops
Ayurvedic Spices
Ayurveda for Ulcerative Colitis
A physician explains test results to a woman in her office.
How to Find the Best Doctor for Ulcerative Colitis
Young woman with stomachache leaning on the couch at home.
The Different Forms of Ulcerative Colitis
Abdominal pain patient woman having medical exam with doctor
What to Know About Taking Steroids for Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis pain and symptoms
Ulcerative Colitis Stool: Why Your Poop Changes
patient talking with doctor
Mild Ulcerative Colitis: Overview and More
A woman with an ostomy in a bikini on a beach.
Ulcerative Colitis Surgery: Types, Cost, Recovery, Aftercare
Ulcerative colitis in women
Essential Oils and Herbs for Ulcerative Colitis
pharmacist taking medication out of drawer
Biologics for Ulcerative Colitis
Large intestine, artwork - stock illustration
Pan Ulcerative Colitis: Overview and More
A woman sitting on a couch and holding her stomach in discomfort.
Ulcerative Proctitis vs. Colitis: Symptoms, Location, Treatment
Patient describes ulcerative colitis flare symptoms to doctor
Managing Ulcerative Colitis Flare-Ups With Lifestyle Changes
A teen lays in bed holding her stomach with her cell phone nearby.
Ulcerative Colitis in Children: Signs, Tests, Treatment
Using CBD for Ulcerative Colitis
Red cabbage juice in a glass, along with raw cabbage, apples, and lime
Cabbage Juice for Ulcerative Colitis
Cropped shot of an unrecognizable man sitting alone on his bed and suffering from stomach cramps while home alone
Acute Ulcerative Colitis: Overview and More
Man having abdominal pain or cramping
Diverticulitis vs. Ulcerative Colitis: Symptoms, Causes, Relief
Grilled chicken salad with avocado
What Should You Eat and Avoid with Ulcerative Colitis?
A doctor vaccinates a young woman.
Managing Ulcerative Colitis During COVID-19 and Beyond
A woman has a video telehealth visit with her doctor using a tablet.
Telehealth for Ulcerative Colitis During COVID-19
knee arthritis
Not Treating Ulcerative Colitis Has These Risks
Doctor handing a patient a prescription
What You Should Know About Xeljanz for Ulcerative Colitis
Digital illustration of the colon
When the Colon Turns Toxic
Aloe vera
Is Aloe Vera an Effective Treatment for IBD?
Individual having an magnetic resonance enterography.
What Is Magnetic Resonance Enterography?
Parts of intestine affected by ulcerative colitis and Crohn's
Differences Between Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease
Senior woman discussing prescription medicine with nurse in clinic
The Lifelong Management of Ulcerative Colitis
How Apriso Can Help Treat Ulcerative Colitis
What Should You Know About Colazal?
Page Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lynch WD, Hsu R. Colitis, Ulcerative. [Updated 2018 Nov 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.

Additional Reading