Ulcerative Colitis


The most common initial signs of ulcerative colitis include blood in the stool or bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, and the sudden urge for bowel movements.

Other symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
Ulcerative colitis is also characterized by tiny open sores, or ulcers, that form on the surface of the lining of the colon. These sores can bleed and produce pus and mucus. Because inflammation makes the colon empty frequently, other complications can arise, such as unwanted weight loss and blood loss.

Conditions with similar symptoms

Sometimes other conditions can cause abdominal symptoms that appear to be similar to those of ulcerative colitis. These conditions include:
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Appendicitis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Inflammation of the gallbladder or pancreas
Additional health problems with symptoms that may mimic UC include:
  • Cysts or tumors of the ovaries or fallopian tubes
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Cancer in the intestine
  • Infections (such as those caused by salmonella and Escherichia coli [E. coli])
  • Inflammatory diseases that affect the blood vessels supplying the intestines
  • Even reactions to medication like aspirin can produce symptoms that mimic those of ulcerative colitis
When to see your gastroenterologist

Regardless of whether you have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, you should consult a gastroenterologist if you experience any symptoms that are characteristic of ulcerative colitis. Abdominal symptoms in particular should be treated seriously, since they might signal a flare-up of ulcerative colitis, a different inflammatory bowel disorder, or another serious condition.

See your gastroenterologist if you have:
  • Blood in your bowel movements
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • The sudden uncontrollable urge for bowel movements
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Progressively loose stools and diahrrea that is not helped by over-the-counter medicine
  • A change in your bowel habits that lasts more than ten days