Ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease that inflames the lining of the large intestine, typically affects people from 15 to 30 years of age.
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Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease. This chronic disease causes ulcers and inflammation in the lining of the large intestine – the colon and rectum. People with ulcerative colitis have tiny ulcers and small abscesses in their colon and rectum. When these flare up, it causes bloody stools and diarrhea.
Ulcerative colitis affects both men and women, usually before 30 years of age, although some people may develop it after 60. It can be inherited and is most common in the United States and northern Europe and people of Jewish descent.
The inflammation spreads throughout the colon from the rectum, with the magnitude of the spread varying for each person. Ulcerative colitis is sometimes referred to as inflammatory bowel disease, which includes other stomach diseases, because it causes inflammation of the bowel.
Ulcerative colitis is characterized by alternating periods of flare-ups and remission, when the symptoms of the disease disappear. The periods of remission can last from weeks to years.
Bloody diarrhea is the main symptom of ulcerative colitis. Also, dehydration, abdominal pain and fever along with painful, urgent bowel movements or pus/blood in the stool occur in ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis can result in lasting canker sores, joint pain or soreness, eye pain from bright light, skin lesions (sores), anemia (red blood cell deficiency) and weight loss.
The cause of ulcerative colitis remains unknown, but it is likely caused by an abnormal response of the immune system. Food or bacteria in the intestines, or even the lining of the bowel may cause the uncontrolled inflammation associated with ulcerative colitis.