Ulcerative Colitis

This information is useful for adults
Man holds stomach in discomfort, he is suffering from ulcerative colitis.
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Our Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program includes doctors, surgeons, nurses and other specialists who exclusively treat these conditions.
  • Yale School of Medicine is one of six genetic research centers searching for advances in the discovery of genes that influence risk factors for IBD.
  • We offer access to clinical trials that feature treatments patients might not find elsewhere.

Ulcerative colitis is a condition characterized by swelling and sores in the colon. People with this problem often end up having to arrange their lives around having quick access to a bathroom. It’s a miserable problem, but fortunately, a variety of treatments can help, sometimes dramatically.

Approximately 1.4 million Americans have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, another form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Yale Medicine is highly regarded for our treatment of IBD. We take a multidisciplinary approach, offering team-based care from doctors, surgeons, nurses, a social worker and a dietitian. Additionally, we offer opportunities for patients to participate in research studies evaluating mood disorders and IBD, and multi-center new drug treatment protocols.

“Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease and if someone is feeling poorly, it really affects their life and it can be very frustrating,” says Deborah Proctor, MD, a Yale Medicine gastroenterologist and medical director of the Yale Medicine Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program. “We aim to get patients into clinical remission so they will be able to live just like anyone else.”

Yale School of Medicine is one of only six genetic research centers supported by the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) seeking to advance the discovery of genes influencing an individual’s risk for developing ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. 

A chronic inflammatory condition, ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine (colon). Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea and blood in the stool.

The colon is responsible for absorbing salt and excess water from waste material, or what remains after food is digested.  Bacteria in the colon breaks down this waste material, which  then moves to the rectum. 

People with ulcerative colitis typically have inflammation in the rectum and lower colon, but the problem can occur anywhere in the colon. No matter where it is located, inflammation limits the colon’s ability to absorb water. This results in loose stool, causing persistent diarrhea.

There are several types of ulcerative colitis, based on where the colon is inflamed. 

  • Ulcerative proctitis: Limited to the rectum, this tends to be a milder form of inflammation.
  • Pancolitis: The entire colon is inflamed.
  • Distalcolitis: The left side of the colon is inflamed.