Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

IBD comprises a group of diseases that affect the gut. UC occurs when the lining of the large intestine (also called the colon) or rectum or both become inflamed. 

Diagnosing Ulcerative Colitis


Ulcerative colitis is usually diagnosed on colonoscopy, where the colon will have a certain appearance when viewed with a small camera.

Biopsies of the gut lining are taken during the procedure and these have a specific histological appearance.

Other tests can also be done to check the overall health of the patient and to exclude other illnesses.

These include:


Blood Tests.

Blood tests are run to check for anemia and infection.


Stool Studies

White blood cells or certain proteins in the stool can indicate an inflammatory process. A stool sample can help rule out other disorders, such as intestinal infections.


Imaging Procedures

An abdominal X-ray, ultrasound, CT or MRI scan can be performed to help rule out other pathology or to aide in making a diagnosis.


Ulcerative Colitis Treatment


Medications and surgery have been used to treat ulcerative colitis.

Medical treatment is usually started with a step-up approach; surgery is reserved for those with life-threatening complications.

Patients with UC will typically experience periods of relapse or flare (worsening of symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea and rectal bleeding) followed by periods of remission (resolution of symptoms).

Treatment may however be multifaceted and include the use of medication and diet/nutrition alterations to reduce the symptoms.

Medication largely suppresses the inflammation of the colon which allows time for the tissues to heal. This in turn may help reduce other symptoms such as diarrhoea, bleeding and abdominal pain.

A specialised diet may also be encouraged to help reduce symptoms, replace lost nutrients and promote healing.

There are several important goals of treatment:

  • Control symptoms by reducing inflammation
  • Achieve symptom remission
  • Heal the intestine or mucosa
  • Reduce or stop steroid use
  • Reduce the need for surgery.

Ulcerative Colitis Treatment Options

Currently available treatments for ulcerative colitis include:

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents:

    Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following aminosalicylates: mesalamine and sulfasalazine. Mesalamine may be given orally as tablets or rectally as a suppository.

  • Biologics:

    Biologics therapies selectively interact with processes in your body to treat a number of diseases and their symptoms.
    To date, biologics have been used to successfully treat many people with a variety of inflammatory disorders.
    Biologics can reduce the signs and symptoms, induce and maintain remission, promote intestinal healing and reduce or stop the need for steroids in patients with moderate to severe UC.

    Apply for UC trials here.

  • Steroids:

    Patients often see an improvement in their symptoms within days after starting steroids. While steroids are effective in the short-term control of a flare-up, it is not recommended that they be used for a long time because of side effects.
    Side effects can include weight gain, acne, facial hair, hypertension, osteoporosis, hip joint damage, diabetes, mood swings and an increased risk of infection. 

  • Other MedicationsOther medications may be prescribed by your Gastroenterologist as necessary.
    Because of the unpredictability of ulcerative colitis, you will need ongoing medical care from your gastroenterologist with regular office visits to monitor your condition.

  • Cancer SurveillanceYou will need more-frequent surveillance screening colonoscopies for colon cancer because of the increased risk associated with Ulcerative colitis.

    The recommended schedule will depend on the location of your disease and how long you have had it. This should be discussed with your treating Gastroenterologist.

Coping and Support


Ulcerative Colitis disease doesn’t just affect you physically – it takes an emotional toll as well. If signs and symptoms are severe, your life may revolve around a constant need to run to the toilet.

Even if your symptoms are mild, gas and abdominal pain can make it difficult to be out in public. All of these factors can alter your life and may lead to depression. Here are some things you can do:

Be informed. One of the best ways to be more in control is to find out as much as possible about Ulcerative Colitis.

Join a support group. These can provide valuable information about your condition as well as emotional support. 

Group members frequently know about the latest medical treatments or integrative therapies.

You may also find it reassuring to be among others with Ulcerative Colitis disease.

Talk to a therapist. Some people find it helpful to consult a mental health professional who’s familiar with inflammatory bowel disease and the emotional difficulties it can cause.

Spoke Research is currently recruiting for an Ulcerative Colitis trial – Apply Here

Medical surveys

Future treatments are now one step closer. 

Contact us

Spoke Research Inc
Mediclinic Milnerton,
Suite 109
Racecourse Rd, Milnerton
Cape Town


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Sat: Closed


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