Call a doctor immediately if you have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and you have:
- Fever over 101°F (38.3°C) or shaking chills.
- Lightheadedness, passing out, or rapid heart rate.
- Stools that are almost always bloody.
- Severe dehydration, such as passing little or no urine for 12 or more hours.
- Severe belly pain with or without bloating.
- Pus draining from the area around the anus or pain and swelling in the anal area.
- Repeated vomiting.
- Not passing any stools or gas.
If you have any of these symptoms and you have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, your disease may have become significantly worse. Some of these symptoms also may be signs of toxic megacolon. This is a condition in which the colon swells to many times its normal size. Toxic megacolon requires emergency treatment. Left untreated, it can cause the colon to leak or rupture. This can be fatal.
People with ulcerative colitis usually know their normal pattern of symptoms. Call your doctor if there is a change in your usual symptoms or if:
- Your symptoms become significantly worse than usual.
- You have persistent diarrhea for more than 2 weeks.
- You have lost weight.
Watchful waiting is not appropriate when you have any of the above symptoms. If your symptoms are caused by ulcerative colitis, delaying the diagnosis and treatment may make the disease worse. And it can increase your risk of other problems.
Even when the disease is in remission, your doctor will want to see you regularly to check for complications. Some of these problems can be hard to detect. It is always a good idea to call your doctor's office for advice.
Who to see
Health professionals who can diagnose ulcerative colitis include:
For the treatment and management of ulcerative colitis, you are likely to be referred to a gastroenterologist.
To be evaluated for surgery, you may be referred to a:
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.