Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) distinguished by inflammation of the large intestine (rectum and colon). The innermost lining of the large intestine becomes inflamed and ulcers may form on the surface. During a disease flare, inflammation in the colon, rectum and gastrointestinal tract can become so severe that sufferers need to be hospitalized and/or require surgery.
Do not confuse an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a disorder that affects the muscle contractions of the bowel. It is not intestinal inflammation, nor is it a chronic disease.
The conditions are largely unpredictable with significant variation in the degree and pattern of symptoms affecting each patient. The relapsing and chronic nature of the disorder has broader impacts on a person’s emotional, physical and social well-being. Patients may also develop complications. These are potentially life threatening. There are links between IBD and increased risks of colorectal cancer.