• By Dana Sparks

Signs and Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

January 20, 2016

medical illustration of colon and rectum Ulcerative colitis (UL-sur-uh-tiv koe-LIE-tis) symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of inflammation and where it occurs. Therefore, doctors often classify ulcerative colitis according to its location.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Diarrhea, often with blood or pus
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Rectal pain
  • Rectal bleeding — passing small amount of blood with stool
  • Urgency to defecate
  • Inability to defecate despite urgency
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • In children, failure to grow

Most people with ulcerative colitis have mild to moderate symptoms. The course of ulcerative colitis may vary, with some people having long periods of remission.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you experience a persistent change in your bowel habits or if you have signs and symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in your stool
  • Ongoing diarrhea that doesn't respond to over-the-counter medications
  • Diarrhea that awakens you from sleep
  • An unexplained fever lasting more than a day or two

Although ulcerative colitis usually isn't fatal, it's a serious disease that, in some cases, may cause life-threatening complications. Read more about ulcerative colitis.

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