Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that can affect people of any age but tends to occur for the first time in childhood or young adult life. Ulcerative colitis, which can be very debilitating, affects around 120,000 people in the UK.

Inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella term that covers both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both may cause similar symptoms but they can usually be differentiated by looking at which part of the digestive system is affected.

Ulcerative colitis affects only the large bowel, but Crohn’s can affect any part of the gut, from the mouth to the anus.
In a few patients, it is difficult to decide which form of inflammatory bowel disease they have, but this does not usually affect the treatment or its success.