Ulcerative Colitis is one of the two major types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the other being Crohn’s disease.

In Colitis, the inner lining of the large intestine (the colon and rectum) becomes inflamed. It is a life-long condition that can cause discomfort and pain in the stomach area, ranging from mild to severe diarrhoea and an urgent need to rush to the toilet. It is different for everyone - some people may never have more than mild and infrequent symptoms of diarrhoea and pain, while for others, it is continuous and more severe.

The content on this page is provided solely for information purposes and provides an overview of the subject matter covered. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are living with this disability, condition or chronic illness, please seek further information. The information on this page is subject to change without notice

Colitis is an invisible disability

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    Ulcerative Colitis is a lifelong condition 
  • Gear icon
    Irritable Bowel Disease  is not the same as Irritibaler Bowelr Syndrom,e
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    It is estimated that 10 million people living with Colitis globally
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    Ulcerative colitis can affect people of all ages and genders.
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    Colitis is different for everyone.

Ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine and rectum, where inflammation and ulcers develop. The inflammation means that the large intestine colon is less able to absorb liquid, leading to a larger volume of watery stools and a more urgent and frequent need to rush to the toilet. Colitis can occur at any age but is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 15 and 25. It tends to run in families, so first-degree relatives, such as a parent, child or sibling, have an increased chance of developing Colitis.


Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic condition and is different for everyone. Some may experience constant symptoms, while for others, symptoms can flare up every few weeks or months. The most common symptoms during a flare-up are:

  • diarrhoea, which may contain blood, mucus or pus
  • stomach pain and cramping
  • urgent need to rush to the toilet
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • loss of appetite and weight loss
  • anaemia (a reduced number of red blood cells)

Symptoms beyond the large intestine may include:

  • painful and swollen joints (arthritis)
  • mouth ulcers
  • areas of painful, red and swollen skin
  • irritated and red eyes
  • anxiety and depression


Sometimes, during surgery for Colitis, the bowel is brought to the surface of the abdomen. An opening is made so that digestive waste products drain into a bag rather than through the anus. This is called a stoma. That diverts the contents of the bowel out of the body. 

Other types of Colitis

Proctitis Colitis:
Involves only the rectum

Left-sided Colitis:
It affects the left side of the colon

Pancolitis Colitis:
Involves the entire colon

Is it the same as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a different condition and does not cause the type of inflammation that Colitis does, and there is no blood loss with IBS. Some of the symptoms are similar: abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea or constipation.


NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ulcerative-colitis/ 
Crohn's and Colitis: https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/about-crohns-and-colitis/p
Crohn's and Colitis Australia: crohnsandcolitis.org.au
Healing Well:https://www.healingwell.com/articles/post/support-someone-with-crohns-or-colitis
Crohn's and Colitis Foundation: https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/types-of-ulcerative-colitis 

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The content on this page is provided solely for information purposes and provides an overview of the subject matter covered. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information on this page is subject to change without notice


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For further information about Ulcerative Colitis in Australia, please click on this link to visit Crohn’s & Colitis Australia.

For more than three decades, Crohn’s & Colitis Australia has been empowering the more than 100,000 Australian men, women and children living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis – collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – to live fearlessly.