Ulceration in the Large IntestinePerhaps the most defining ulcerative colitis symptom is ulceration in the large intestine, which begins in the rectum (called ulcerative proctitis), and may progress over time, spreading up through the large intestine (called pancolitis). This ulceration of the inner lining of the colon leads to other common ulcerative colitis symptoms, including pain, blood in the stool, and diarrhea.
Abdominal Pain and CrampingThe pain associated with ulcerative colitis is often described as "crampy" in nature, and typically is felt on the left side of the abdomen. The pain often precedes a bowel movement or diarrhea, and may abate or decrease after stool is passed.
Blood in the StoolWhen the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and ulcerated, it bleeds, causing blood to be passed in the stool. Blood from ulcerative colitis is often thick and darker in color as opposed to the bright red color of fresh blood.
DiarrheaDiarrhea is another common ulcerative colitis symptom. Because the colon is inflamed, it is not as efficient at absorbing water and nutrients from food. Frequent diarrhea can lead to dehydration and nutritional deficiencies.
FeverFever is a characteristic of the inflammatory process that takes place in ulcerative colitis. Fevers may be either high or low-grade, and are present especially during periods of active disease (flare-ups). Night sweats can be caused by a fever spiking repeatedly during the night.
Loss of AppetiteA lack of appetite can be a complicating factor in ulcerative colitis, and ultimately lead to other signs and symptoms such as fatigue and unintended weight loss.
Mucus in the StoolMucus, which is white or yellow in color, may also be passed in the stool. The mucus may sometimes occur with together with blood.
Urgency to Move the BowelsOne of the more distressing and embarrassing ulcerative colitis symptoms is an urgent need to have a bowel movement (also called tenesmus). At times, there may be a feeling of incomplete evacuation, even though no further stool may be passed.
The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. "About Ulcerative Colitis & Proctitis." CCFA.org 25 Jul 2008. 23 Feb 2010.
The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. "Ulcerative Colitis." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Feb 2006. 23 Feb 2010.