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 abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding.
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). Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s diseases are chronic conditions. Grohn’s disease can affect any portion of the gastrointestinal tract, including all layers of the bowel wall. It may not be limited to the GI tract (affecting the liver, skin, eyes, and joints). UC only affects the lining of the colon (large bowel). 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.