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Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers (sores) in your digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. Symptoms usually develop over time, rather than suddenly.
Ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications. While it has no known cure, treatment can greatly reduce signs and symptoms of the disease and even bring about long-term remission.
Ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of inflammation and where it occurs. Signs and symptoms may include:
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.
Health care providers often classify ulcerative colitis according to its location. Types of ulcerative colitis include:
When to see a health care provider
See your doctor if you experience a persistent change in your bowel habits or if you have signs and symptoms such as:
Although ulcerative colitis usually isn't fatal, it's a serious disease that, in some cases, may cause life-threatening complications.
Read more on the Mayo Clinic IBD blog, discussing the latest advances in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
This article is written by Mayo Clinic staff. Find more health and medical information on mayoclinic.org.
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