Ulcerative Colitis Facts

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in which the lining of the large intestine (colon or bowel) and rectum become inflamed. Inflammation usually starts in the rectum and lower intestine and spreads up to the entire colon. Learn more about ulcerative colitis ›

Managing Ulcerative Colitis with Medication

Your doctor may prescribe medication to help control your ulcerative colitis symptoms and help improve your quality of life. It won’t cure ulcerative colitis. But it can help keep it from slowing you down. Work closely with your doctor. You may have certain side effects or your symptoms may change. In this case, your medication or dosage may need to be changed.

These drugs can reduce inflammation and pain in the intestinal lining. They must be prescribed by a doctor. The most common anti-inflammatories for ulcerative colitis are called 5-ASA compounds. They help control symptoms over long periods of time. They may be taken as pills. But they also can be taken as an enema or suppository directly into the rectum.

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Living with Ulcerative Colitis

You can lead a full life even if you have ulcerative colitis. Focus on keeping your symptoms under control. And don’t let this disease isolate you. By planning ahead and working with support groups, you can find ways to cope. And you may even help others who have ulcerative colitis.

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Make this your goal: “Ulcerative colitis won’t keep me from the activities I enjoy.” You may need to do some planning to reach that goal. But by staying positive, you can help make sure you’re in control—not ulcerative colitis. Here are some other tips:

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What's a Low-Residue Diet?

Kathy McManus, M.S., R.D is the director of the department of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an investigator on the Pounds Lost Trial, a 5 year NIH funded obesity study. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Simmons College, completed her Dietetic Internship at Brigham and Women Hospital, and received a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Framingham State College.

What is a "low residue" diet? Why would this be advised? What foods are included in this diet and what foods should I avoid?

A low residue diet leaves fewer solids for the bowels to pass out after digestion. Typically, a low residue diet is made up of foods that are relatively easy to digest. You can think of them as being gentle to the insides of the intestines.

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Ulcerative Colitis: An Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in which the inner lining of the large intestine (colon or bowel) and rectum become inflamed. Inflammation usually begins in the rectum and lower (sigmoid) intestine and spreads upward to the entire colon. Ulcerative colitis rarely affects the small intestine, except for the lower section, the ileum.

The inflammation causes diarrhea, or frequent emptying of the colon. As cells on the surface of the lining of the colon die and slough off, ulcers (open sores) form and may cause the discharge of pus and mucus, in addition to bleeding.

Although children and older people sometimes develop ulcerative colitis, it most often starts between the ages of 15 and 30. It affects males and females equally and appears to run in some families.

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Your Guide to Ulcerative Colitis


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