What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a relapsing and remitting inflammatory condition of the large bowel (rectum and colon) that causes diarrhoea with passage of blood. It affects the mucosal (inner) lining of the colon with formation of multiple small ulcers. The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, but it is thought to be a disorder of auto immunity. It is associated with other medical conditions including arthritis, skin rashes, ascending cholangitis, chronic active hepatitis and uveitis (inflammation of the eyes).
In approximately a third of cases the inflammation is limited to the final part of the bowel and rectum only, and symptoms are milder. In a further third of cases a greater part of the left side of the colon is affected. The whole of the large bowel may be involved in the remaining third of cases causing a much more serious illness.
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Amended April 2008