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What Causes UC?

Man with Ulcerative Colitis browsing his tablet

Understand different factors and their interactions.

While we can’t fully explain the causes of ulcerative colitis (UC), it is known to involve an interaction between 3 things: genetics, the immune system, and environmental factors.

Man with Ulcerative Colitis browsing his tablet

3 Factors That Contribute to the Development of UC

Immune System Response: In people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—like UC—inflammation is the result of the immune system responding inappropriately to the intestinal tract.

Genetics and Heredity: While they do not absolutely predict that the disease will occur, certain genes are connected to susceptibility of the disease.

Environmental Factors: While not fully identified, these can act as “triggers” to initiate a harmful immune response in the intestines.

Ulcerative Colitis is:

  • A chronic, inflammatory condition of the large intestine (colon to rectum)
  • Thought of as an autoimmune disease
  • Unpredictable—no one can know how it will affect a particular person

Ulcerative Colitis is not:

  • Caused by something you did
  • Contagious—you can’t catch it from anyone
  • A result of something you ate or drank
  • Developed from a stressful lifestyle

Ulcerative Colitis, the Immune System, and Inflammation

Connecting UC and the Immune System

The immune system is a complex network of cells and organs that protects the body. When an immune system functions normally, white blood cells attack dangerous bacteria or viruses, causing inflammation that results in the removal of foreign substances. But, since UC is an autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks itself instead of a foreign substance.

Leading to an Overreaction of the Immune System

Inflammation helps the body limit the effects of these dangerous bacteria and viruses and goes away once the threat is removed. Ulcerative colitis, however, produces chronic (ongoing) inflammation (redness and swelling) that might cause pain unless managed by an effective treatment plan.

Causing UC Symptoms When Inflammation Doesn’t Subside

With UC, once the inflammatory response is triggered by the immune system, it doesn’t subside. This may lead to:

  • Chronic inflammation
  • Ulceration
  • Thickening of the intestinal wall
  • Eventually, patient symptoms

Looking for a treatment option for moderate to severe ulcerative colitis that could be right for you? Get more info.

 

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QUESTION FOR YOU

How long have you been diagnosed?

"I'm not diagnosed"

It’s still important to be open about symptoms you might be experiencing.

Partner with your doctor>

 

"Under a year"

Always stay positive and be proactive. Make sure you know the facts about your condition.

GET THE FACT SHEET>

"1 to 3 years"

Make the most out of every appointment with your specialist.

GET THE Doctor Discussion Guide>

"3 to 5 years"

Do you know how inflammation affects you inside the body—and impacts your symptoms?

See Inside Inflammation>

 

"Over 5 years"

Keep treatment conversations open with your specialist and have more productive visits.

Get The Doctor Discussion Guide>

 

Man holding stomach in pain

QUESTION FOR YOU

How often do you experience symptoms?

“Daily”

Schedule an appointment with your specialist and make the visit even more productive.

Get the Doctor Discussion Guide>

“Weekly”

Have an open conversation with your specialist. Make the most of your next visit.

Get the Doctor Discussion Guide>

“Monthly”

Make sure that you’re telling your doctor everything they need to know to help you.

Get the Doctor Discussion Guide>

“Rarely”

Did you know that inflammation can affect you—even if you don’t have symptoms?

SEE INSIDE INFLAMMATION>

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Know the basics of Crohn’s or UC

See an overview of facts on Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—all on one downloadable page.

son sitting at a desk viewing inflammation inside the body on a laptop

Understand your inflammation

Explore and learn how inflammation affects you with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—from inside the body.

Real Ulcerative Colitis patient

It’s not visible on the day-to-day. Go to any lengths. Try to connect with doctors on the phone or email them more.

JOE | Real UC Patient

Real Ulcerative Colitis patient

Ulcerative Colitis Can Affect:

Men and women equally

People of any age

Any ethnicity or race

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Looking for a gastroenterologist?

Find a gastroenterologist—a doctor who specializes in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC)—near you.

Woman going over her doctor discussion guide with her doctor

Make the most of your appointments

Our doctor discussion guide can help you talk effectively with your doctor during your visits.

Stopwatch

Is it time to make a personalized action plan?

See how much time your disease is impacting you. Answer 5 quick questions and get 3 customized, timely steps to help you and your doctor take action with your disease.

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Get a Restroom Request Card* and helpful info

Have a discreet way to ask for access to restricted restrooms if you have symptoms. And get updates, resources and more sent to your inbox.

Person sitting at a desk viewing inflammation inside the body on a laptop

Understand your inflammation

Explore and learn how inflammation affects you with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—from inside the body.

Woman going over her doctor discussion guide with her doctor

Make the most of your appointments

Our doctor discussion guide can help you talk effectively with your doctor during your visits.

Person looking at map on mobile phone

Looking for a gastroenterologist?

Find a gastroenterologist—a doctor who specializes in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC)—near you.

Stopwatch

Is it time to make a personalized action plan?

See how much time your disease is impacting you. Answer 5 quick questions and get 3 customized, timely steps to help you and your doctor take action with your disease.

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