Colitis Home > Ulcerative Colitis and the Digestive System

In a person who has ulcerative colitis, inflammation starts at the rectum and moves up the colon in a continuous manner. The inflammation and irritation can lead to ulcers or other sores in the colon, as well as to diarrhea and abdominal pain (or stomach pain). A perforation (or tear) in the intestines is among the possible complications of ulcerative colitis. The digestive system of a person with ulcerative colitis still works as it normally would, however, to push food along as it is digested.

How Does Ulcerative Affect the Digestive System?

In a person with ulcerative colitis, the digestive system still works in the same way that it normally would to push food along as it is digested. However, the inner lining of the colon becomes irritated and inflamed.
The cells that make up the lining of the intestines are shed and replaced on a regular basis in a healthy body. But when this lining is irritated, the cells may be shed more frequently, leading to ulcers or other sores in the colon. These ulcers may bleed or become infected, causing pus, mucus, or blood to be found in your stool. Also, this inflammation causes your colon to empty more frequently, resulting in diarrhea. It can also cause abdominal pain (or stomach pain).
Because ulcerative colitis can thin the lining of the intestines, certain complications are more common in people with ulcerative colitis. A perforation (or tear) in the intestines is among these possible complications.
(Click Ulcerative Colitis Complications for more information on possible complications of ulcerative colitis.)
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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