This inflammatory bowel disease only affects the colon (large bowel). It begins in the rectum and can affect either a small amount of the bowel or its entire length. The disease commonly affects young people and is equally likely to occur in males and females.
Typical symptoms include diarrhoea, urgent bowel movements, abdominal rectal bleeding and mucous discharge.
The diagnosis is usually made by colonoscopy and taking biopsies of the inflamed bowel. Treatment with medication (oral or via enemas) is usually effective in controlling the symptoms but major bowel surgery is sometimes needed for severe or complicated ulcerative colitis.