What is ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a life-long autoimmune condition, where the large intestine is ‘attacked’ by the immune system leading to inflammation. The immune system injures the lining of the large intestine, which results in the formation of ulcers (open sores that can bleed). The damage to the lining of the large intestine may also lead to the production of mucus and pus in the large intestine.

The symptoms of ulcerative colitis depend on the location of the disease, and how much of the intestine is involved. While it is usually the lower large intestine and rectum that is affected, in some instances the entire large intestine may be involved.

The most common symptom of ulcerative colitis is diarrhoea containing traces of blood.

You may cycle between periods of disease activity (flare ups) and periods of inactivity (remission, which can last for months or even years). People may go into remission after treatment, but most symptoms eventually return.

While the exact cause of ulcerative colitis is currently unknown, environmental and lifestyle factors (such as exposure to certain bacteria or viruses) and genetic factors can increase one’s predisposition to the development of ulcerative colitis.

If you have any further questions about symptoms that you may be experiencing, please seek further medical advice from a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Download the ulcerative colitis booklet