Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease of the colon and the rectum. The condition is characterized by inflammation and sometimes ulcerations of the lining of the colon, called the mucosa, and/or rectum (last six inches of the large intestine). The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, but symptoms include loose stools/diarrhea that can be mixed with blood. Patients may also have mucus discharge, rectal pain, and sometimes fecal incontinence. The bleeding from ulcerative colitis is usually limited, but sometimes it can be significant.
Treatment of ulcerative colitis depends on the extent of the inflammation and the number of flare-ups a patient has had. Most patients are monitored by a gastroenterologist and receive medical treatment, which may include enemas, suppositories, and oral or intravenous medications. If the disease activity becomes more intense, surgical treatment may be needed, such as removal of the colon and rectum, which cures the disease in the bowel.