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Ulcerative Colitis


Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the colon (large intestine). Ulcers (sores) form on the inner lining of your colon and cause bleeding and inflammation.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


If not treated, ulcerative colitis may lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and severe anemia (low blood iron). Ulcerative colitis may increase your risk of colorectal cancer and may also affect other parts of the body. There may be swelling of your joints, eyes, or mouth. You may also have increased risk of skin problems, kidney stones, gallstones, spine problems, and liver disease.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


You may need to rest in bed until you are feeling better. Your caregiver will tell you when it is okay to get out of bed. If you are not allowed out of bed, you can still exercise your legs. Do this by lifting one leg off the bed and drawing big circles with your toes. Repeat with the other leg. Call your caregiver before you get up for the first time. If you feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away.

Intake and output:

Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.


  • Anti-inflammatory medicine: This medicine helps decrease inflammation. They include steroids and aminosalicylates.

  • Immunosuppressant: This medicine helps control your immune system and decrease inflammation.


  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

  • Bowel movement sample: A sample of your bowel movement is sent to a lab for tests. The tests may show what germ is causing your illness. This helps caregivers learn what medicine is best to treat you.

  • Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy: These procedures help your caregiver see the inside of your colon using a flexible tube with a small light and camera on the end. During a sigmoidoscopy, your caregiver will only look at rectum and lower colon. During a colonoscopy, caregivers will look at the full length of your colon. Caregivers may remove a small amount of tissue from the colon for a biopsy.


  • Blood transfusion: You will get whole or parts of blood through an IV during a transfusion. Blood is tested for diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV, to be sure it is safe.

  • Surgery: You may need surgery to remove all or part of your colon. Surgery is the only cure for ulcerative colitis. There are different types of surgery that can be done depending on how bad your ulcerative colitis is and your lifestyle. Talk with caregivers to find out what surgery might be best for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.