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Types of Ulcerative Colitis

Topic Overview

The severity of ulcerative colitis is determined by certain criteria. 1 Ulcerative colitis can be classified as mild, moderate, severe, or fulminant (very severe), which may guide treatment choices.

People who have mild ulcerative colitis may have:

  • Fewer than four bowel movements (stools) a day.
  • No bleeding or a small amount of bleeding with stools.
  • Normal erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR).

People who have mild ulcerative colitis do not have fever, rapid heartbeat, or anemia .

People who have moderate ulcerative colitis may have:

  • More than four stools a day.
  • Mild elevation in ESR.

People who have severe ulcerative colitis may have:

  • More than six bloody stools a day (loose stools).
  • Fever, rapid heartbeat, and anemia.
  • An elevated ESR.

People who have fulminant ulcerative colitis may have:

  • More than 10 stools a day (loose stools).
  • Constant bleeding from the rectum.
  • Fever, rapid heartbeat, and anemia.
  • Cramping belly pain and bloating.
  • An expanded colon (as seen on an X-ray).
  • A need for blood transfusions.

Flare-ups can be so severe that they require hospitalization.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Kornbluth A, Sachar DB (2010). Ulcerative colitis practice guidelines in adults: American College of Gastroenterology, Practice Parameters Committee. American Journal of Gastroenterology , 105(3): 501–523. Available online: http://www.nature.com/ajg/journal/v105/n3/full/ajg2009727a.html.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology
Last Revised October 8, 2012

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