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Ulcerative Colitis
in Denver

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a type of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes ulcers to form in the digestive tract. This condition affects the innermost lining of the large intestine and rectum. The inflammation in ulcerative colitis usually starts in the rectum and may spread to parts of, or the entire, colon.

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis usually develop over time, and may include:

  • Loose and urgent bowel movements.
  • Abdominal cramping or pain.
  • Blood stools.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Unintended weight loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.

While it is not known what causes ulcerative colitis, it may include many factors including an immune system malfunction, heredity and environment. This condition can occur at any age, though most patients are diagnosed in their mid-30s. Your chances of getting this condition may be slightly higher if you have a family member with IBD, eat a high-fat diet or use NSAIDS like Advil or Motrin frequently.

How is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed?

If you or your doctor suspects ulcerative colitis, he or she will conduct a physical exam, as well as ask you questions regarding your health history and symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend some diagnostic testing which may include blood or stool tests, colonoscopy, X-ray, CT scan and more. In cases where ulcerative colitis is present, your doctor will diagnose you depending on the type of colitis.

Ulcerative colitis is often classified according to its location and includes:

Ulcerative Proctitis

Bowel inflammation occurs only in the rectum. Common symptoms include rectal pain, rectal bleeding and urgent bowel movements.


Inflammation is present in the rectum and sigmoid colon. Symptoms consist of bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping and a feeling of needing to pass stool even if the bowels are empty.

Left-sided Colitis

Inflammation begins in the rectum and extends into the sigmoid and descending colon. Common symptoms include bloody diarrhea, pain on the left side of the abdomen, loss of appetite and weight loss.


Inflammation affects the entire colon. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, fatigue and weight loss.

Treatment Options for Ulcerative Colitis

While there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, there are treatments to help patients regulate their immune systems and manage symptoms. The treatment option that is right for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms, your health history, your age and your preference. Treatment options may include:


Antibiotics can be prescribed to help prevent or treat infections.


These steroid medications can help to ease inflammation in the body, and may include prednisone or budesonide. They are not recommended for long-term use, as they may cause unwanted side effects.


Aminosalicylates, also known as 5-ASAS are anti-inflammatory drugs that contain 5-aminosalicylic acid. They are often the first step in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and include sulfasalazine, mesalamine and balsalazide, among others.


Biologic therapies modify the immune system to stop it from causing ongoing inflammation. Examples include adalimumab (Humira), infliximab (Remicade) and vedolizumab (Entyvio), among many more.


These drugs work by suppressing the immune system to reduce inflammation. Examples may include azathioprine (Imuran®) and cyclosporine.


For individuals who do not respond to diet and lifestyle changes, drug therapy or other treatments, surgery may be an effective option. Surgery involves removing the entire colon and rectum. In most cases, this will call for a procedure known as J-pouch surgery, which will eliminate the need to wear an ostomy bag (a bag to collect stool). However, in some cases, this procedure is not possible, and a permanent ostomy bag may be required.

Ulcerative Colitis FAQs

What is the difference between Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis?

With these two forms of inflammatory bowel disease, the main difference lies in where the inflammation occurs. Ulcerative colitis affects only the colon, or large intestine while Crohn’s disease can affect anywhere in the GI tract and can lead to other GI complications such as fistulas and perianal disease. Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation in one continuous section of the bowel whereas Crohn’s disease can cause areas of inflammation separated by areas of normal bowel. Both conditions are treated with many of the same medications.

Does Ulcerative Colitis go away?

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, or lifelong, disease. While there may be some periods where symptoms go away (remission) the symptoms may reoccur (a flare) throughout your life. Surgery to remove the colon is the only current solution for fully eliminating symptoms, though people who have undergone this surgery can sometimes have complications related to their inflammatory bowel disease even after surgery.

Can I live a normal life with Ulcerative Colitis?

For many people, ulcerative colitis (UC) can be controlled with medications or surgery, and they are able to live active lives. Treatment for UC in Denver, CO may include antibiotics, corticosteroids, 5-ASAs, biologics, immunomodulators and/or surgery. Your South Denver GI gastroenterologist can help determine which treatment option is best for managing your symptoms.

Can you fully recover from Ulcerative Colitis?

There is currently no cure for ulcerative colitis. However, there are many effective treatments in Denver, Castle Rock, and Parker to help you control symptoms and prevent long-term complications. To determine which treatment is right for you, your symptoms, and your lifestyle, seek our professional advice through a consultation at our office today.

How serious is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is considered a lifelong, chronic condition. Without treatment, it can lead to weight loss, malnutrition, bowel obstruction, and even colon cancer. Because of this, patients are highly encouraged to seek professional treatment to manage their symptoms and prevent complications. Our providers are highly skilled in treating ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to help diminish symptoms.

What food should be avoided with Ulcerative Colitis?

While every individual with ulcerative colitis may be able to tolerate different forms of food and drink, some foods are more likely to trigger symptoms such as alcohol, high-fat foods, processed and red meat, lactose products, spicy foods, and caffeine. Many patients find that once they are on treatment, they are much better able to enjoy the foods they once loved. Our team of gastroenterologists in Denver, Parker, and Castle Rock is happy to discuss diet with patients.

Which area of the intestine does Ulcerative Colitis affect?

Ulcerative colitis affects the lining of the colon and rectum. It does not typically affect the small intestine. Our expert gastroenterologists can help pinpoint your inflammation through a variety of medical tests including colonoscopy and blood and stool studies.

What happens if Ulcerative Colitis is left untreated?

Untreated UC can lead to many complications such as anemia, chronic inflammation, bleeding, malabsorption of nutrients, weight loss, need for hospitalization, colon cancer and more. If you are experiencing any symptoms associated with IBD or UC, please contact one of our four locations in Denver, Castle Rock, and Parker today to meet with one of our skilled gastroenterologists.

Who is most at risk for developing ulcerative colitis?

While ulcerative colitis can appear at any stage of life, the majority of people are diagnosed between age 15 and 30, with some studies showing there may be a second peak between 50 and 80. It affects about the same number of men and women. Those with a family history of inflammatory bowel disease are at higher risk of developing the condition.

What are some common symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

The most common symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis are diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, and cramping. People may also experience weight loss, fatigue, fever, urgency to defecate, and more. If you are experiencing any symptoms associated with UC, please contact one of our four locations in Denver, Castle Rock, and Parker today to meet with one of our skilled gastroenterologists.

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