Glossary of Medical Terms
An inflammatory chronic disease of the colon, possibly with genetic components, characterized by ulcers that form in the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Common symptoms are diarrhea, blood or mucus in the stool, and, in more severe cases, anemia. Symptoms may vary from mild to life threatening and may be cyclic (periods of symptoms followed by symptom-free periods) or continuous. Systemic symptoms include fatigue, malaise, loss of appetite and weight loss. Intermittent fever is not uncommon. People with ulcerative colitis have a higher risk for colon cancer.