What are Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2018
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Ulcerative colitis is a kind of inflammatory bowel disease. Affecting primarily the large intestine, which includes the colon and rectum, the condition causes sores and inflammation. Primarily, these ulcers or sores and inflammation occur along the colon's lining. Ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of inflammation. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis include diarrhea, constipation, inflammation, and rectal bleeding.

Various types of inflammation may occur as a symptom of this condition. One type of inflammation is known as left-sided colitis. This condition refers to inflammation extending up into the colon from the rectum. Ulcerative colitis symptoms of this type of inflammation can include pain in the left side of the abdomen. Cramping in the side and abdomen may also be present.

If inflammation exists only in the rectum, this symptom is known as ulcerative proctitis. Rectal pain may be present in individuals with this type of inflammation, as may bleeding and rectal urgency. Bowel movements can also become very painful. Patients may experience episodes of ulcerative proctitis that are both mild and severe.

Weight loss due to a loss of appetite may also be a symptom of ulcerative colitis. Existing problems such as abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea may add to the lack of desire for food. Individuals may also experience fatigue, an overall loss of energy.


Ulcerative colitis symptoms can include rectal bleeding or bloody diarrhea as a lone symptom or as a symptom of a more severe condition. The entire colon can become inflamed in individuals with ulcerative colitis, leading to pancolitis. If this happens, fever, cramping, sweating, and severe pain in the abdomen may occur.

Fulminant colitis, an extreme inflammation of the colon, is rare, but can occur in patients with ulcerative colitis. Generally, this condition develops as a result of an onset of pancolitis, and is extremely dangerous. Additional symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and extreme abdominal pain may be present with the onset of this condition. Fulminant colitis can cause the colon to rupture.

A physician who suspects a patient has ulcerative colitis may order a variety of diagnostic tests to make a clear diagnosis. Stool samples may be taken to check for blood, and blood tests may be ordered. A colonoscopy may be performed, which will allow the doctor to view the inside of the colon for abnormalities. In addition, a computerized tomography (CT) scan may be ordered to check for inflammation.

Ulcerative colitis symptoms can be different for each patient. This may not be a continual condition; some patients with ulcerative colitis experience flare ups and then periods of remission. An individual experiencing any of these symptoms should consult a doctor for further evaluation.



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