Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an immune-mediated, inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This condition is characterized mainly by pain and cramping in the abdomen caused by some trigger to the GI tract. Many individuals with UC experience flare-ups, which are periods of time when symptoms are noticeable and often painful. Flare-ups can last days, weeks or even months, but are usually followed by periods of time when inflammation decreases, also known as remission, and the individual may live their life seemingly free of disease.
Researchers and medical professionals do not fully understand what causes an individual to develop UC. However, there may be some factors that contribute to onset of the disease, such as genetics, microbial interactions and immune responsiveness. Additionally, some modifiable environmental factors, such as smoking, physical activity, diet and vitamin D status, are also thought to play a role in the development of UC.