Health Encyclopedia



Ulcerative Colitis

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.


It is possible that the main title of the report Ulcerative Colitis is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • Chronic Non-Specific Ulcerative Colitis
  • Colitis Gravis
  • Idiopathic Non-Specific Ulcerative Colitis
  • Proctocolitis, Idiopathic
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Ulcerative Colitis Type

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) of unknown cause. It is characterized by chronic inflammation and ulceration of the lining of the major portion of the large intestine (colon). In most affected individuals, the lowest region of the large intestine, known as the rectum, is initially affected. As the disease progresses, some or all, of the colon may become involved. Although associated symptoms and findings usually become apparent during adolescence or young adulthood, some individuals may experience an initial episode between ages 50 to 70. In other cases, symptom onset may occur as early as the first year of life.

Ulcerative colitis is usually a chronic disease with repeated episodes of symptoms and remission (relapsing-remitting). However, some affected individuals may have few episodes, whereas others may have severe, continuous symptoms. During an episode, affected individuals may experience attacks of watery diarrhea that may contain pus, blood, and/or mucus; abdominal pain; fever and chills; weight loss; and/or other symptoms and findings. In severe cases, individuals may be at risk for certain serious complications.

For example, severe inflammation and ulceration may result in thinning of the wall of the colon, causing tearing (perforation) of the colon and potentially life-threatening complications. In addition, in some cases, individuals with the disorder may eventually develop more generalized (systemic) symptoms, such as certain inflammatory skin or eye conditions; inflammation, pain, and swelling of certain joints (arthritis); chronic inflammation of the liver (chronic active hepatitis); and/or other findings.

The specific underlying cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. However, genetic, immunologic, infectious, and/or psychologic factors are thought to play some causative role.


American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc.

22100 Gratiot Ave.

Eastpointe, MI 48021

Tel: (586)776-3900

Fax: (586)776-3903

Tel: (800)598-4668



Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America

386 Park Avenue South

17th Floor

New York, NY 10016-7374


Tel: (212)685-3440

Fax: (212)779-4098

Tel: (800)932-2423



NIH/National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive & Kidney Diseases

Office of Communications & Public Liaison

Bldg 31, Rm 9A06

31 Center Drive, MSC 2560

Bethesda, MD 20892-2560

Tel: (301)496-3583



International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

700 W. Virginia St., 201

Milwaukee, WI 53217


Tel: (414)964-1799

Fax: (414)964-7176

Tel: (888)964-2001



Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation

70 East Lake Street

Suite 1015

Chicago, IL 60601

Tel: (312)332-1350

Fax: (312)332-4757



Pull-Thru Network

1705 Wintergreen Parkway

Normal, IL 61761


Tel: (309)262-2930



Reach Out for Youth with Ileitis and Colitis, Inc.

PO Box 857

Bellmore, NY 11710


Tel: (631)293-3102



Erythema Nodosum Yahoo Support Group


Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126

Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126

Tel: (301)251-4925

Fax: (301)251-4911

Tel: (888)205-2311

TDD: (888)205-3223


Madisons Foundation

PO Box 241956

Los Angeles, CA 90024

Tel: (310)264-0826

Fax: (310)264-4766



Autoimmune Information Network, Inc.

PO Box 4121

Brick, NJ 08723

Fax: (732)543-7285


PSC Partners Seeking a Cure

5237 South Kenton Way

Englewood, CO 80111

Tel: (303)771-5227

Fax: (303)221-0757



European Society for Immunodeficiencies

1-3 rue de Chantepoulet

Geneva, CH 1211


Tel: 410229080484

Fax: 41229069140



AutoImmunity Community




3 St. Andrews Place

London, NW1 4LB

United Kingdom

Tel: 02074860341

Fax: 02072242012



For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

Last Updated:  11/5/2012

Copyright  1986, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2005 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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