Understanding Ulcerative Colitis: Symptoms, Types, and Risk Factors 


Posted By Author on September 21, 2022


Ulcerative colitis is one form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. A lifelong condition with potentially dangerous complications, ulcerative colitis requires treatment from a GI specialist you can trust – like the ones you’ll find at Charleston GI!

Ulcerative colitis is characterized as the chronic inflammation of the colon. Small ulcers develop on the colon as a result, causing unpleasant symptoms that leave patients feeling less than their best. But there’s no need to suffer in silence! Read on to learn more about ulcerative colitis, then schedule an appointment at Charleston GI – no referral needed!

Signs and Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

As with many GI conditions, ulcerative colitis symptoms vary from person to person. Because ulcerative colitis is chronic, managing these symptoms is the goal. This is often achieved through lifestyle changes, medication, and for severe cases, surgery.

If you are experiencing these ulcerative colitis symptoms, contact Charleston GI today.

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Rectal pain
  • Rectal bleeding 
  • Urgency to move your bowels 
  • Inability to move bowels despite urgency
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue (persisting for a day or two)
  • Fever
  • In children, failure to grow

Some patients experience mild symptoms, while others suffer from severe digestive tract discomfort. Significant changes in stool or bowel movements, or any of the other symptoms listed above, can indicate a problem, so be sure to contact your gastroenterologist as soon as possible.

What Are the Different Types of Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis can affect different parts of the colon and rectum, with symptom intensity linked to the severity of the inflammation. Here at Charleston GI, our board certified gastroenterologists can help diagnose ulcerative colitis with stool and blood tests or large intestine endoscopies. We can also help determine which of the following types you are experiencing:

Ulcerative Proctitis

In this milder form, inflammation is limited to the rectum. 

Proctosigmoiditis 

This type affects the rectum as well as the sigmoid colon, the portion that connects the colon to the rectum.

Left-sided Colitis

Patients with this type experience inflammation anywhere from the rectum to the splenic flexure of the colon (the bend near your spleen).

Pancolitis

This form affects the entire large intestine or bowel, and because of this, it is also known as extensive colitis.

Risk Factors of Ulcerative Colitis

While the cause of ulcerative colitis remains unknown, it is likely that a combination of factors contributes. Equally common in both men and women, ulcerative colitis may develop as a result of these risk factors:

  • Age: Ulcerative colitis may develop at any age, but most often starts before age 30. 
  • Race/ethnicity: Caucasians face the highest risk, especially those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
  • Genetics: People who have a close family member (parent, sibling, or child) with UC are more likely to develop it as well. 
  • Environment: Certain environmental substances (chemicals, bacteria, etc.) may trigger GI tract inflammations. 
  • Diet/Lifestyle: While rarer than the factors listed above, certain lifestyle choices may increase the risk of UC – like high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids, a sedentary lifestyle, or smoking.

Experiencing Symptoms of IBD? Contact Our GI Specialists in Mount Pleasant! 

Here at Charleston GI, we are proud to offer a higher standard of care to patients here at home. If you are experiencing digestive discomfort or any GI issues, our gastroenterologists are here to help you find relief! 

We have four locations throughout the Charleston, SC area to best serve you. Visit Charleston GI in Summerville, SC, Carnes Crossroads, Mount Pleasant, or West Ashley – whichever office is closest to home! 

Our GI specialists treat a wide variety of conditions, including the following:

  • Chronic and Acute Pancreatitis
  • Diarrhea 
  • Constipation
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Reflux Disease
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Hepatitis
  • Irritable bowel 
  • Ulcerative Colitis 

We also perform diagnostic and prevention procedures, like colon cancer screenings, upper endoscopies, capsule endoscopies, and more!

There’s no referral needed, so book your appointment today! Schedule online or just give us a call at 843-722-8000.