Colitis Home > Cause of Ulcerative Colitis

Although researchers do not yet know why ulcerative colitis occurs, they do have several theories. Among these possible causes are genetic problems, environmental factors, and a problem with the immune system. Researchers have also looked at whether ulcerative colitis may be caused by an infection -- but so far, despite extensive research, they have not found a known bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic cause of the disease.


An Overview of Ulcerative Colitis Causes

At this point, research doctors and scientists are not sure of the cause or causes of ulcerative colitis. They do, however, have several theories about it. Some of these possible causes include:
  • Genetic problems
  • Certain types of infections
  • A problem with the immune system
  • The environment.
It is possible that ulcerative colitis is caused by a combination of factors.


Because ulcerative colitis appears to run in families, it's thought that genetics may play a role in who gets the disease. In fact, studies show that about one-fifth of all people with ulcerative colitis have a close relative with some type of inflammatory bowel disease. Ulcerative colitis is also more common in whites and Jews.

Is Ulcerative Colitis Caused by an Infection?

Researchers have looked at whether ulcerative colitis is caused by an infection. This is because the digestive tract inflammation seen in people with ulcerative colitis is also seen with other types of infections that cause acute colitis or acute ileitis. However, despite devoting extensive study to this possible ulcerative colitis cause, researchers have not found a known bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic cause of ulcerative colitis.
They do, however, know that ulcerative colitis is not contagious -- so you can't catch it from, or give it to, someone else.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
List of references (click here):
Other Articles in This eMedTV Presentation

Topics & Medications


Related Channels

eMedTV Links
Copyright © 2006-2020 Clinaero, Inc.

eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.

This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.