What is ulcerative colitis?

What happens to the body when you have CD?

Acute inflammation is the body's normal immune response to intruders (bacteria and viruses). In people with UC, this inflammation becomes chronic and attacks the intestinal mucosa. From the rectum, the inflammation can extend to affect the whole of the colon.

What causes CD?

The exact cause is unknown.

What are the symptoms of UC?

Intestinal symptoms

Extra-intestinal symptoms

Presence of blood in the stools
Abdominal pains
Excretion of mucus
Frequent urgent need to defecate
Weight loss
Mouth ulcers

Skin problems
Inflammation of the joints
Inflammation of the eyes
UC is sometimes associated witha biliary tract disorder

Can UC be treated3?

Yes. Although it cannot be cured, UC can be managed to control the symptoms and the intestinal inflammation. Long-term treatment will be necessary. Starting the appropriate treatment as soon as possible can relieve the symptoms (e.g. pain, diarrhea) and help prevent other intestinal damage.

There are several types of treatments3


Treats UC by removing the rectum and colon


These drugs target specific parts of the immune response in order to reduce the symptoms and slow down intestinal damage if immunosuppressants are not sufficient.


Immunosuppressive treatments modulate the action of your immune system. They are useful when treatments with 5-aminosalicylates are not sufficiently effective.


Used to reduce the severe inflammation associated with UC. Taken for a short period.


These drugs reduce inflammation. They are used to reduce the symptoms in the event of a flare-up. These drugs can be taken over the long term as a maintenance treatment.



on patient



Tailored treatment will depend on the disease and its location and severity... and also on the patient! The impact of UC varies greatly from person to person. Moreover, the course of the disease is unpredictable, with symptoms that appear and disappear. A person with UC may feel fine for months, and then a flare-up may occur suddenly.

  • At the time of diagnosis, most patients only have inflammation. If appropriate follow-up is not given, possible complications including severe colitis requiring hospitalisation and sometimes colectomy (removal of the colon), loss of the colon’s reservoir function due to loss of elasticity, risk of colon cancer could happen.4

What are the implications of UC?


Interactions with others

Mindset / Mood

What could
your patient do?

Your patient recognizes their symptoms and take their medication as per your recommendation. It's important for your patient to recognize that he/ she is not alone and that their disease affects not only them but their spouses/ relatives/... as well.

Common patients myths

False A varied and balanced diet is important. Every person must find the diet that suits them best.

False Treatments are available to relieve the symptoms and to prevent or relieve damage. Although the disease cannot be cured, most people with UC can continue doing the activities they enjoy.

True and False The causes of ulcerative colitis disease are not yet really known. Genetics plays a role, but environmental factors and “chance” also play a part in the onset of the disease.

False again If you follow your treatment properly, and possibly with a few adjustments, in most cases you will be able to continue your professional activity.

  1. Ananthakrishnan, A. N. Nat. Rev. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 2015;12:205-217
  2. Molodecky NA et al, Gastroenterology 2012;142:46–54
  3. http://www.bcfi.be/GGR/Index.cfm?ggrWelk=/GGR/MPG/MPG_C.cfm accessed May 2021
  4. Friedman S, Blumberg RS. Inflammatory bowel disease. In: Longo DL, Fauci AS, Kasper DL, et al, eds.
    Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2012:2477-2495

UC = Ulcerative colitis

AbbVie SA/NV - BE-IMM-210046 (v2.0) - August 2022