- News & Features
Ulcerative colitis symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on how much inflammation the person has and where it occurs. They also tend to come and go, often with extended periods of time (sometimes months or even years) in between flares – called remission periods. Symptoms can include loose, urgent bowel movements, persistent diarrhea with blood in the stool, abdominal pain and/or cramps, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, rectal pain, fever and, in young children, failure to grow.
UC can in some cases cause life-threatening complications including severe bleeding, perforated colon, and severe dehydration. If any of these conditions are present, it constitutes a medical emergency and the person should get immediate medical attention. UC can also cause an increased risk of colon cancer and blood clots in the veins and arteries.
Abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea are the most common warning signs of UC, and can range from mild and intermittent to severe and chronic. The pain of UC is quite common and can significantly impact quality of life. It may be associated with bowel movements, such as constipation and/or the cramping that comes with diarrhea, or eating specific foods.
Ongoing inflammation along with ulcers and abscesses in the intestines are additional common causes of pain. Scarring in the lining of the intestinal tract (called adhesions and strictures) can lead to painful obstructions. Pain may occur in different areas such as the abdomen or rectal area, depending where the inflammation is located. For example, people may experience moderate to severe pain on the left side of the abdomen if the UC affects the rectum and the lower segment of colon.