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Ulcerative Colitis: What You Need to Know

Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation of the inner lining of the colon and rectum. People with ulcerative colitis have flare-ups followed by periods of remission throughout their lives - which can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.


Symptoms may include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain or cramping, and an urgent need to go to the bathroom.

Who gets it

200,000 to 500,000 people in the U.S.

Ulcerative Colitis Treatment

Medications can help control symptoms and lengthen periods of remission. There is no known cure, except for removal of the colon, if quality of life cannot be maintained with medication. But this condition can be monitored and controlled through routine check-ups, colonoscopies, biopsies, and blood tests.

"Fortunately," says Neil Hyman, M.D., "many patients can stay healthy without the need for surgery. When surgery is required, newer reconstructive techniques mean that most patients will not necessarily require an ostomy." (An ostomy is an operation -- necessary when part or all of the intestines are removed -- that allows stool to leave the body through an opening made in the abdomen).