Ulcerative Colitis: What it is, Symptoms and Causes

Intestinal diseases increasingly occur in a greater number of people around the world, this thanks to the constant change in lifestyle, being this increasingly stressful and with less time to keep track of our food and emotions. The intestinal diseases are many, but today we will talk about ulcerative colitis, so that you are able to recognize the symptoms that may occur and if you feel identified, look for our doctor, who is the one who will help us treat it.

What is ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease, of which the specific cause is unknown, which affects the colonic mucosa (not affecting any other layer of the colon, this characterizes it of other inflammatory diseases). The difference it has from other inflammatory diseases, is that its lesions begin in the rectum and exceptionally the rectum is exempt, being able to reach a variable extension of proximal and continuous form to another anatomical part called blind.


There is a way to classify the disease according to its extension, which is done by taking a biopsy from different regions through a colonoscopy. This classification is important, since it will guide us on the treatment that should be carried out and the prognosis that we will have in the future.

We must remember that both its extension and its severity are variable in each patient over time.

Classification of Montreal

Extensive colitis: also called universal colitis or pancolitis, extends beyond the anatomical region called the splenic angle, and is more related to an increased risk of serious outbreaks and the realization of colectomy (resection of some part of the intestine) in the long term.
Distal or left colitis: Its extension is distal (distant) splenic angle, its treatment can be systemically and / or topically in the form of enema or foam.

Proctitis: the extension of is, is circumscribed to the rectum or to the rectosigmoid junction. Being able to deal with it in a systemic or local way.

What symptoms does it present?

Typically, the disease occurs in the form of outbreaks of inflammatory activity during which the patient presents the symptomatology, which will be determined by the extent of the disease and its degree of activity. The most characteristic symptom is bloody diarrhea, the patient usually comes to consultation after several weeks of presenting the picture.

Even though it is the main symptom, patients may present with: rectal bleeding (blood from the rectum), chronic diarrhea (that lasts for more than 4 weeks), abdominal pain, some extraintestinal manifestations (ankylosing spondylitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, peripheral arthritis, erythema nodosum, canker sores, nodules in buccal mucosa, thromboembolic diseases, anemia, fever).

The symptoms, together with some analytical variables (laboratory), will help us to quantify the degree of activity of the disease.

Is there any known cause that produces it?

Although no etiology has been found as such, there are different similar characteristics that have been found in patients with ulcerative colitis, these are:

Genetic factors: It has been found that first-degree relatives of patients affected by this disease are between 3 and 20 times more likely than the general population to develop this disease.

Environmental factors:

A relationship has been found between children intolerant of cow’s milk proteins who subsequently developed IBD.
The consumption of margarine has been linked to an increased risk for the development of the disease.

Numerous studies have suggested that appendectomy could protect against the development of UC in women who used oral contraceptives, without this relationship being established.

Ulcerative colitis is a disease more common than we might believe, which may only present manifestations that do not allow an optimal development of daily life, however, if the episodes are recurrent and of great intensity, it is important that we go to a specialist to guide us and offer us the best treatment for a good quality of life.

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