Ulcerative Colitis, Explained in Under 2 Minutes

When you have UC, your colon becomes a battleground.

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By design, your immune system is supposed to be on your team. You have immune tissue in different parts of your body, all ready to attack against illness and infection when needed.

But if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system makes some big mistakes. That’s the case with ulcerative colitis (UC), a type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine.

Normally, your large intestine takes semi-digested food from the small intestine and absorbs water and all the remaining nutrients. Your large intestine (a.k.a., your colon) is the last step in converting your food to feces.

But with UC, your colon becomes a battleground. The immune system attacks the colon like it’s a virus. These constant attacks lead to chronic inflammation in the body, leading to symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Unintentional weight loss

  • Nutrient deficiencies

  • Dehydration

  • And ulcers.

Ulcers—from which ulcerative colitis gets its name—are open sores in the inner lining of the colon. They can seep pus and blood, leading to bloody BMs. Learn more about the symptoms of UC here.

Treatment for UC helps train the immune system to calm down and reduce the amount of inflammation in the colon. The goal is to achieve remission—a period of no UC symptoms—and prevent relapses.

Although it cannot technically be cured, surgery for UC can essentially rid the body of symptoms by removing the large intestine and eliminating the target. Find out how a colectomy helped one woman conquer her UC.