Q. Is ulcerative colitis hereditary?
A: Studies have shown that heredity may play a role in the development of ulcerative colitis. If you have a close relative that’s suffering from a form of inflammatory bowel disease, then there’s a chance that you’ve also inherited the genetic risk for this type of illness, making you more prone to developing ulcerative colitis than the general population.1
Q. How do you get ulcerative colitis?
A: The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is still unknown. However, researchers suggest that you may develop this condition if you have inherited the genetic risk for inflammatory bowel diseases and your immune system overreacts due to an unknown trigger in the environment.2
Q. What does ulcerative colitis do to your body?
A: When you have ulcerative colitis, your immune system mistakes food and normal bacteria in your digestive tract as foreign invaders. As a response, it attacks the lining of the large intestine, which eventually results in chronic inflammation and ulceration. When the disease is in flare-up stage, it causes abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, fatigue and abnormal weight loss. Ulcerative colitis may also weaken your bones, putting you at risk of bone disorders.3
Q. Is ulcerative colitis life-threatening?
A: Ulcerative colitis in and of itself is not life-threatening, especially if its symptoms are managed well and if preventive measures are taken to keep it in remission. If you religiously follow the treatment plan prescribed by your physician, then there’s a high chance that you’ll be able to live a happy and normal life.4
Q. Can a person die from ulcerative colitis?
A: Death due to ulcerative colitis and its symptoms is fairly low since it’s a condition that can be controlled and induced into remission. However, if a person ignores its symptoms or fails to follow a treatment plan, this disease may lead to serious complications, including gastrointestinal perforation, toxic megacolon, severe bleeding and even colorectal cancer. These complications require urgent medical care, and they may lead to death if not treated immediately.5
Q. Can ulcerative colitis be caused by stress?
A: Studies have found that stress is not a direct cause of ulcerative colitis. Rather, it’s one of the factors that may trigger a flare-up of this disease. This is due to the vital role of stress to your gut health. Chronic stress can weaken your immune system and intestinal lining, making you more susceptible to ulcerative colitis.6