Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammation of the large
The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown.
Intermittent rectal bleeding, crampy abdominal pain
and diarrhea often are symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
The diagnosis of ulcerative colitis can be made with a barium
enema, but direct visualization (sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy) is the most
accurate means of diagnosis.
ulcerative colitis is a risk factor for
Treatment of ulcerative colitis may involve both
medications and surgery.
Ulcerative colitis also can cause inflammation in joints,
skin, eyes, and the liver and its bile ducts.
What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the large intestine (colon). The colon is the part of
the digestive system where
water is removed from undigested material, and the remaining waste material is stored. The rectum is the end of
the colon adjacent to the anus. In patients with ulcerative colitis, ulcers and
inflammation of the inner lining of the colon lead to symptoms of
pain, diarrhea, and
Ulcerative colitis is closely
related to another condition of inflammation of the intestines called Crohn's
disease. Together, they are frequently referred to
as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
colitis and Crohn's diseases are chronic conditions that can last
years to decades. They affect approximately 500,000 to 2 million people, in the
United States. Men and women are affected equally. They most commonly begin
during adolescence and early adulthood, but they also can begin during childhood
and later in life.
It is found worldwide, but is most common in the United States, England, and
northern Europe. It is especially common in people of Jewish descent. Ulcerative
colitis is rarely seen in Eastern Europe, Asia, and South America, and is rare
in the black population. For unknown reasons, an increased frequency of this
condition has been observed recently in developing nations.
First degree relatives of people with ulcerative colitis have an increased
lifetime risk of developing the disease, but the overall risk remains small.
There is no clinical or scientific evidence that supports the theory that a specialized diet may cause or benefit individuals with ulcerative colitis (UC). However, patients may find that certain foods aggravate symptoms of ulcerative colitis and they should avoid such foods. The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are rectal bleeding, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. Some people recommend avoiding a high fiber diet (such as raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, etc.) in addition to other foods that aggravate symptoms. It may be reasonable to keep a food journal to track what foods aggravate symptoms and foods that don't aggravate symptoms (for example, bananas, white rice, white bread, applesauce, bland soft foods, etc.) Discuss your dietary needs with your treating doctor or a dietician that specializes in ulcerative colitis and diet.