Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease of the large intestine, which includes
the colon. This disease is characterized by inflammation – irritation or swelling – and sores, also
known as ulcers, of the colon and rectum. The symptoms associated with UC may include bloody
diarrhea, urgency, and abdominal cramps.
No one knows exactly what causes ulcerative colitis, and it can affect every individual in
way. UC is a chronic, or ongoing, condition. And while there are no medicines that can cure this
disease, it can be managed.
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis can vary from person to person depending on severity. Symptoms can also come and go.
The pattern of disease activity is often described by medical professionals as “relapsing and remitting.”
This means going through periods of flares and periods of remission. Flares are when symptoms return,
such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping. Remission is a time where the symptoms are generally
With inflammation, the colon loses its ability to
absorb water, which leads to a progressive
loosening of the stool. This is one of the most
common symptoms of UC, especially during a
flare or at night (nocturnal diarrhea).
Some symptoms associated with UC can
result in a loss of appetite and could lead to
weight loss. Weight loss can become more
evident if not addressed.
As the lining of the intestine becomes
inflamed and ulcerated, patients could have
symptoms, such as diarrhea or bloody stool, in
addition to some abdominal cramping.
Ulceration of the lining of the colon can cause
bleeding, which could lead to anemia.
Reduced appetite and weight loss, along with
anemia, could lead to a feeling of low energy.
Along with abdominal pain, most people
with UC may experience urgency to have
a bowel movement.
Even though not all patients have symptoms
outside of the colon, UC may also affect your
eyes, skin, and bones, among other parts of
the body. These will vary depending on the
extent of inflammation and location of
UC can affect many parts of your body. That is why your approach to manage it should cover every area it impacts. Finding the right team of healthcare professionals can make an enormous difference.
It’s important to note that the symptoms associated with each type of UC may vary depending on a number of factors such as the location and extent of inflammation. Click below to explore the types of UC based on location within the large intestine.
Inflammation is confined to the rectum.
In this form, there is inflammation in both the rectum and the lower end of the colon.
Inflammation extends beyond the rectum, through the sigmoid and descending colon.
This type of UC affects the entire colon.
Check out helpful articles, videos,
and tips about living with UC.
It’s important to remember no medicine cures ulcerative colitis (UC), but symptoms may be
managed. Each person’s UC is different and that’s why it’s important to work with your doctor to find
a treatment plan that is right for you.
Having an open and honest conversation with your doctor is the first step.
To help you with your visit,
keep track of your symptoms and be as informed as you can.
When it comes to UC treatment, it is important to work with your doctor to establish goals that are
right for you. One of those key goals may be to initially get your symptoms under control during a
flare. A long-term goal could be keeping those symptoms under control, which your doctor may refer
to as remission. It is very important to work with your doctor to determine if a prescription
medication may be appropriate for you. Several different types of treatments are available, and you
should discuss with your doctor which would be most appropriate for you.
Treatments for UC vary in how they work and how they are administered. For instance, some can be
taken orally as a pill, while others are delivered as an injection, intravenously, or topically. Also keep
in mind that surgery might be needed in certain situations. Your doctor can help you determine how
severe your UC is based on your symptoms and test results. Understanding the severity of your UC,
and what medications you have taken in the past will help determine what treatment may be most
appropriate for you.
Be sure to ask your doctor and healthcare team about all the available treatment options to get as
much information as you can about the management plan of your UC.
Pfizer is working with adults living with UC and medical professionals to bring you informative content. Register and be the first to know when new content is available on TalkingUC.com.
The UC Narrative patient survey was conducted online and via telephonei by Harris Poll on behalf of Pfizer between August 23, 2017, and February 9, 2018, among 2,100 adults ages 18+ residing in Australia (215), Canada (215), Finland (105), France (169), Germany (210), Italy (210), Japan (210), Spain (214), the United Kingdom (251), and the United States (301) who have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC), have had an endoscopic procedure to confirm their diagnosis, have not had a colectomy, have been to a gastroenterologist or internist’s officeii in the past 12 months, have ever taken a prescription medication for their UC (excluding those who have only ever taken 5-ASAs), and provided informed consent to complete the research. Raw data were not weighted at the individual country level, and are therefore only representative of the individuals who completed the survey.
The primary goal of the survey was to characterize the experiences of UC patients who are believed to be living with moderate to severe disease or those who may be living with poorly controlled disease. The choice to focus on these patient types was based on the assumption that these groups (versus those with milder disease) were more likely in need of support and resources, which the survey could help better identify.
To achieve the goal of focusing on those with moderate to severe disease, self-reported medication history was used as a proxy for disease severity. Patients with “moderate to severe” disease were defined as those who have ever taken a biologic or immunosuppressant for their UC, or have taken steroids for four or more of the past 12 months. Patients with a “milder” form of the disease were defined as those who have never taken a biologic or immunosuppressant, and those who have taken steroids for three or fewer months of the past 12 months. The research excluded patients who have never taken a prescription medication for their UC or have only ever taken a 5-ASA to control their UC. More than 80 percent of total completes were from patients whose disease was classified as “moderate to severe,” using this definition, with “milder” patients capped at no more than 20 percent of total survey completes. Results from the UC Narrative patient sample survey may not reflect the experiences of the broader UC population.
The UC Narrative physician survey was conducted online and via telephonei by Harris Poll on behalf of Pfizer between August 23 and February 9, 2018, among 1,254 adults ages 18+ residing in Australia (90), Canada (80), Finland (17), France (154), Germany (152), Italy (157), Japan (151), Spain (151), the United Kingdom (153), and the United States (149)iii who practice as a gastroenterologist, internist with a gastroenterology focus, gastroenterology internist, or gastroenterology surgeon,iv do not primarily practice in a long-term care facility or hospice setting, see at least 10 patients with UC each month (or a minimum of five patients with UC per month in Japan), with at least 10 percent of these patients currently taking a biologic medicine for their UC (physicians were asked to think about their experiences treating patients in their practice whose UC is moderate to severe throughout the survey), and provided informed consent to complete the research. Physician results in the United States were weighted by region, years in practice, and physician gender. In all other countries, physician results were weighted by age and gender to ensure alignment with the actual proportions in the population of gastroenterologists in each country.v UC Narrative physician sample survey may not necessarily reflect the experiences of all gastroenterologists.
For both patient and physician data, for the global, 10-country total, a post-weight was applied to adjust for the relative size of each country’s adult population within the total adult population across all countries surveyed. The unweighted sample sizes reflect the total number of patients and physicians who completed the survey in each country, while all reported percentages are calculated based on the weighted global total described here. Proportionate weighting for combining multicountry data into a single total is a common practice because it relies on externally recognized population data to achieve a global total that more accurately represents the real-world relative to the adult populations surveyed. There are limitations to this approach; when countries surveyed have widely varying population totals, the data from smaller countries may get weighted down within the total, thus reducing their share of voice when grouped together with the larger countries.
In the United States, the research method and survey questionnaires were reviewed and received institutional review board (IRB) approval from WIRB-Copernicus Group.
Language referencing data of those who agree with the statement, includes those who indicated both "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree" within the survey.