Ulcerative colitis (UC), a type of inflammatory bowel disease, can get more severe over time. The severity may depend on the level of inflammation in the intestines and throughout a person’s body.

UC causes inflammation and sores in the rectum, colon, or both. This leads to symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. The condition may involve more frequent and severe flare-ups of gastrointestinal symptoms as it progresses. It may also cause inflammation in other parts of the body.

A person should inform a doctor if they develop new symptoms or if their symptoms worsen or do not improve with treatment. The doctor may also order blood tests, colonoscopy tests, or other tests to monitor inflammation and check for changes in the person’s condition.

A doctor may recommend changes to their treatment plan if their current treatment is not working well enough to limit inflammation and symptoms, their condition progresses, or they develop complications.

Click through the progression guide below to learn how UC may affect a person over time.