Ulcerative Colitis Complications

Sores and ulcers can become deep and tunnel through the different layers of the intestines and into the tissues of nearby organs, such as:
  • The rectum
  • Other parts of the intestine
  • The bladder
  • The vagina
  • The skin.
These tunnels, which are called "fistulas," can become infected. Fistulas usually require special treatment, such as medication or even surgery. Fistulas are rare in people with ulcerative colitis.

Systemic Complications of Ulcerative Colitis Explained

Osteoporosis (thinning of bones) is a threat in people with ulcerative colitis. It is a threat mainly in those people using corticosteroids on a long-term basis for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
(Click Osteoporosis and Ulcerative Colitis for more information. Also, click Osteoporosis Prevention to learn how to prevent this condition.)
Joint Problems
Up to 25 percent of people with ulcerative colitis will have joint complications. These problems may include intermittent joint tenderness or arthritis. Two specific types of arthritis seen in people with ulcerative colitis are enteropathic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
Skin Problems
Skin problems are more commonly seen when the colon is affected. Skin complications occur in about 15 percent of people with ulcerative colitis.
Eye Problems
Eye complications occur in about 5 percent of people with ulcerative colitis. Some of these eye problems include:
  • Iritis (inflammation of the colored part of the eyes)
  • Uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye)
  • Episcleritis (inflammation of the white part of the eyes).
Other Complications of Ulcerative Colitis
Some other complications associated with ulcerative colitis include:
  • Kidney stones
  • Gallstones
  • Other diseases of the liver and bile duct system, including:
    • Pericholangitis
    • Sclerosing cholangitis
    • Bile duct cancer
    • Hepatitis
    • Cirrhosis.
Some of these problems resolve during treatment for ulcerative colitis, but some must be treated separately.

Information on Ulcerative Colitis

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