What is Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory bowel condition that causes inflammation and sores on the inner lining of your large intestine, also known as the colon. The disease causes the body and immune system to think that food, bacteria and other needed things in the intestine are not supposed to be there. With this, the body attacks the cells of the bowels, causing inflammation that does not easily go away. Typically, symptoms develop over time rather than suddenly. The exact cause is unknown, but it may involve an abnormal immune response against some microorganisms in which the tissues are also attacked. Genetics may also play a role in who develops ulcerative colitis. Additionally, there are factors that have been found to aggravate ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis can be embarrassing, difficult and sometimes cause life-threatening complications. Although there is no cure, there are several new treatments and medications that can reduce signs and symptoms. Some medications can also cause long-term remission of the disease.
How common is Ulcerative ColitisUlcerative colitis is relatively uncommon and currently affects about 700,000 Americans. Ulcerative colitis can develop at any age, but the disease is most likely develop in people 15-30 years old. Although the exact cause is unknown, there are some known factors that increase risk. Genetics may play a role in who develops ulcerative colitis, and you are at higher risk of having ulcerative colitis if a first-degree relative has it. However, most people with ulcerative colitis do not have this family history. Additionally, race and ethnicity may increase the risk of ulcerative colitis. White people and those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have the highest risk of the disease, but it can occur in any race.
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What are the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary, depending on where it occurs and the severity of the inflammation. About half of people with ulcerative colitis have mild symptoms. Some people have long periods where they are free from symptoms, called remission. The most common symptoms include rectal bleeding, diarrhea, blood or pus in the stool, and frequent bowel movements. Other symptoms may include:
- Sever tiredness
- Weight loss
- Joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- Growth failure in children
How is it diagnosed
Doctors will use blood tests, stool tests, colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, and imaging tests to diagnose ulcerative colitis. Healthcare providers divide ulcerative colitis into different types according to its location. Types of ulcerative colitis include:
- Ulcerative proctitis: Inflammation is confined to the area closest to the anus, also called the rectum. Rectal bleeding may be the only sign of the disease.
- Proctosigmoiditis: Inflammation involves the rectum and sigmoid colon — the lower end of the colon. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, and an inability to move the bowels despite the urge to do so. This is called tenesmus.
- Left-sided colitis: Inflammation extends from the rectum up through the sigmoid and descending portions of the colon. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and pain on the left side, and urgency to defecate.
- Pancolitis: This type often affects the entire colon and causes bouts of bloody diarrhea that may be severe, abdominal cramps and pain, fatigue, and significant weight loss.
The following specialty medications are available at Accredo, a specialty pharmacy for Ulcerative Colitis.
|Cyltezo® (adalimumab-adbm)||Boehringer Ingelheim|
|Entyvio® (vedolizumab)||Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc.|
|Humira® (adalimumab)||AbbVie Inc.|
|Remicade® (infliximab)||Janssen Biotech, Inc.|
|Renflexis® (infliximab-abda)||Samsung Bioepis Co.|
|Rinvoq™ (upadacitinib)||AbbVie Inc.|
|Simponi® (golimumab, self inject)||Janssen Biotech, Inc.|
|Stelara® (ustekinumab)||Janssen Biotech, Inc.|
|Zeposia® (ozanimod)||Bristol-Myers Squib Company|
Life-saving specialty medication can be expensive. Learn how the Accredo teams help individuals find ways to afford the medication they need to survive in this video.
There are many organizations that support research and advocacy for Ulcerative Colitis. See below for a few of those organizations.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Support Foundation
- United Ostomy Associations of America
- Girls with Guts Nonprofit Organization
- Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation
- The American College of Gastroenterology
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- American Gastroenterological Association
Meet the Team
Accredo’s Ulcerative Colitis team is dedicated to serving you, and we understand the complexity of your condition. Our specialty-trained clinicians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to answer any questions.
Why We Do It
Accredo supports patients with chronic and complex conditions and helps them live their best life. Watch our video to learn why we do what we do for our patients.