(ulcerative colitis)


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What is UC?

Ulcerative colitis (UC) – One of two inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) characterized by chronic inflammation. With UC, the buildup of inflammation occurs in the colon, which can cause colon damage and UC symptoms. 

  • When you have UC, chronic inflammation can be present even when you are not experiencing UC symptoms. Chronic inflammation can be controlled with treatment options that work for you.

Understanding UC

Autoimmune disease – A chronic condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells 

Colon – An organ in the digestive system that absorbs water and other elements from partially digested food to form stools that are passed out of the body. The colon is also known as the large intestine 

Colon damage – The presence of blood, erosions, and/or ulcers in the colon, caused by excess inflammation 

Flare-up – A period when someone with UC experiences symptoms. The buildup of inflammation that damages the colon is one factor that can contribute to flare-ups 

Gastrointestinal (GI) tract – The GI tract is the pathway that starts from the mouth and follows through the organs of the digestive system ending with the anus. It’s responsible for transporting and processing food through the body

Immune system – The body’s system of fighting off invaders that can make someone sick

Inflammation – Your immune system’s natural defense to harm, such as redness or swelling. When you have UC, your immune system can cause chronic inflammation, contributing to colon damage and UC symptoms 


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – A family of diseases that involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. The two types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. IBD is not the same thing as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can have similar symptoms but does not involve chronic inflammation

Severity – As a general term, severity is how greatly UC impacts you, including your measurable symptoms and their potential impact on your ability to complete errands or socialize. This is in addition to your gastroenterologist confirming you have “moderate to severe UC,” which is based on your stool frequency and the presence of blood in your stools 


Ulcer – An open sore and a common characteristic of UC, in which ulcers happen in the lining of the colon 

Diagnosing and monitoring UC

Biopsy – A medical procedure where a piece of tissue from the body, such as the colon, is collected and examined in a laboratory. Biopsies can be taken during an endoscopy to check for inflammation or damage to the colon that is visible only with a microscope


Endoscopy – A procedure where a flexible tube-like instrument with a light and lens for viewing is used to look at the inside of the digestive tract by entering through the mouth or anus. Endoscopy is used to both diagnose UC and to monitor your disease and potential complications


Gastroenterologist – A doctor who specializes in issues of the gastrointestinal tract, including inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like UC


Mayo score – A score that looks at four categories (stool frequency, rectal bleeding, endoscopy, and an assessment by your healthcare provider) to measure the severity of someone’s UC at diagnosis. After diagnosis, a Mayo score can be used to assess severity over time and whether treatment is working

Treating and controlling UC

Biologics – A substance that is made from a living organism or its products and is given by infusion or injection for the prevention or treatment of various diseases. Biologics are also called biologic agents


Colectomy – A type of surgery that removes part or all of the colon


Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor – Medications that work by targeting some of the proteins involved in inflammation, known as JAK. RINVOQ (upadacitinib) is a JAK inhibitor taken orally as a once-daily pill


Mechanism of action (MOA) – The process of how a drug works inside the body


Mucosal healing –The absence of blood, erosions, and ulcers in the colon, and the combination of findings from endoscopy (nonsurgical procedure used to visually examine a person's digestive tract) and histology (the study of tissues and cells under a microscope)


Proctocolectomy – A type of surgery that removes the colon and rectum


Remission – A period when someone experiences few or no UC symptoms and their colon lining has visibly improved. Your gastroenterologist can confirm if you're in remission based on the frequency of your bowel movements, a lack of bloody stools, and a visible improvement of the colon lining seen in endoscopy results. Consider treatment options that offer lasting remission, even at 1 year


Small molecule – A drug that can enter cells easily because it has a low molecular weight. Many medications that precisely interact with specific components in your body are small molecules, including RINVOQ


Treatment response – In UC, treatment response is a reduction in UC symptoms and/or an improvement in overall colon appearance, specifically caused by taking medication (as opposed to other factors like diet or exercise)

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