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    Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

    The symptoms of ulcerative colitis (UC) depend on how severe the irritation and swelling are in your colon. They also depend on what part of your colon is affected.

    Symptoms can come and go. You might not have any for weeks, months, or years, and then they come back. Chances are about 50-50 that the effects of your disease will be mild.

    Recommended Related to Ulcerative Colitis

    What Medicines Treat UC That’s More Than Mild?

    When you have ulcerative colitis (UC), you’ll definitely take medicine to help manage it. There are several kinds your doctor will consider, depending on what you need. Most people with UC take prescription drugs called aminosalicylates (or “5-ASAs”) that tame inflammation in the gut. These include balsalazide, mesalamine, olsalazine, and sulfasalazine. As long as you avoid your trigger foods, these may be enough if your disease is mild to moderate. You may need something else if your condition...

    Read the What Medicines Treat UC That’s More Than Mild? article > >

    Most people with UC have a few common issues.


    The most common symptom of ulcerative colitis is diarrhea that has blood or pus in it. You might notice it in the toilet after you go. But it’s possible to have blood in your stool and not be able to see it.

    If your disease is severe, the urge to empty your colon can come on fast and furious. You might be able to predict when it will happen. Some people with UC know they'll have to go to the bathroom soon after they eat. You might notice that certain kinds of foods make it worse, like spicy dishes or those with a lot of fiber.

    But other times the urge to go can be unpredictable. It can wake you up when you’re sleeping.

    It might be tough to hold diarrhea in and make it to the bathroom in time. Sometimes it might feel like you still have to go even though you just went, like you didn’t empty your colon.


    Belly pain from UC can feel crampy, like a charley horse in your gut. It can happen before you have a bowel movement or when you're actually going.

    You might feel pain in other parts of your body. Some people with UC have soreness in their joints. Others find that their eyes hurt when they look at bright lights.


    Different effects of the condition can make you feel tired:

    • You might not eat much because you don’t feel hungry and you’re sick to your stomach. That leaves your body low on fuel.
    • Diarrhea and swelling called inflammation in your colon make it tough for your body to absorb what it needs from food for energy.
    • You have too few red blood cells, a problem called anemia, from bleeding in your colon.
    • You wake up often at night to go to the bathroom.
    • You’re dehydrated because of diarrhea.

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