Ulcerative colitis may be mild, moderate, or severe. It may be described as dependent on , unresponsive to steroids, active, or not active (in remission).
also may be defined by the part of the large intestine affected: the rectum (proctitis), the left side of the colon (left-sided colitis), or the entire colon (pancolitis).
Most people with ulcerative colitis have periods of remission that may last up to several years. These periods are interrupted by occasional flare-ups of moderate symptoms. About 5 to 10 out of 100 people who have ulcerative colitis have symptoms all the time.1
Children may have the same symptoms as adults. Also, children with ulcerative colitis may grow more slowly than normal and go through puberty later than expected.
Complications and long-term effects
- Inflammation and scarring of the bile ducts(primary sclerosing cholangitis) may occur. A bile duct is a passage thatcarries fluid produced in the liver to the small intestine.
- Severeinflammation and ulceration sometimes irritate muscles in the colon, causingcolon walls to stretch. The colon may swell to many times its normal size, acondition known as. This is an emergency that requiresimmediate treatment, but it is rare.
- Narrowed areas of theintestine (strictures) may occur in ulcerative colitis, causing difficulty inpassing stools.
- Yourrisk of cancer of the colon and rectum is higher than average if you have hadulcerative colitis for 8 years or longer. With regular screening, some cancerscan be detected early and treated successfully.
- Ulcerative colitis can cause rare complications such asscarring of the and inflammation of the membrane surroundingthe heart ().
Some people who have ulcerative colitis also have , which is not as serious as ulcerative colitis. IBS causes abdominal pain along with diarrhea or constipation.
Most women with ulcerative colitis can have a normal pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Symptoms may become worse during the first 3 months of pregnancy. Some medicines to treat the disease can be used during pregnancy.