What is ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) where the inner lining of the large intestine (colon) becomes irritated or inflamed.  which can cause cramping, pain, bleeding and diarrhea.


The most common symptom of ulcerative colitis is bloody diarrhea. Other symptoms may include:

  • abdominal pain
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • rectal bleeding

Some patients may also have:

  • skin lesions
  • joint pain
  • eye swelling
  • rashes


To diagnose ulcerative colitis, your child may need to have one or more of the following tests:

  • blood tests
  • stool tests
  • imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • endoscopy, which uses a thin, lighted tube to “see” inside the intestines


Most children with ulcerative colitis are treated with a combination of diet changes and medication. Some children with severe ulcerative colitis may need surgery.

Learn more about Pediatric Gastroenterology services at Boston Children’s Health Physicians.

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