About half of all patients have mild symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea (most common symptoms)
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Rectal bleeding
- Loss of body fluids and nutrients
Other medical problems that crop up as a result of ulcerative colitis include arthritis, eye inflammation, liver disease, osteoporosis (loss of bone mass), skin rashes, anemia and kidney stones. These conditions are usually mild and go away when the colitis is treated.
Causes and Risk Factors
Affecting men and women equally, ulcerative colitis most often occurs in people 15 to 40 years of age. As with other conditions, ulcerative colitis has no known cause. The disease appears to run in some families. There is also some evidence that the body's immune (disease-fighting) system reacts to a virus or bacteria by causing ongoing inflammation in the intestinal wall. However, this has not been proven.
Stress does not cause ulcerative colitis nor do certain foods or food products, but these factors may set off symptoms in some people.
About five percent of people with ulcerative colitis develop colon cancer. The risk increases with the duration of the disease and how much of the colon is involved.