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Ulcerative Colitis: Problems Outside the Digestive Tract

Topic Overview

Complications of ulcerative colitis can include: 1

  • Arthritis, in 5 to 20 out of 100 people. Some people develop colitis-related arthritis, which may resemble rheumatoid arthritis. In people who have ulcerative colitis, inflammation limited to the lower joints of the spine (sacroiliitis) is more common than ankylosing spondylitis, another type of arthritis that affects the spine and lower back.
  • Eye symptoms such as inflammation of the iris and blood vessels (uveitis), and inflammation of the white part of the eyes (episcleritis). Treatment of ulcerative colitis with corticosteroid medicines may increase the risk of cataracts. Eye problems occur in less than 10 out of 100 people who have ulcerative colitis.
  • Skin conditions such as mouth ulcers, erythema nodosum, and pyoderma gangrenosum. Both erythema nodosum and pyoderma gangrenosum are relatively rare. About 10 out of 100 people with ulcerative colitis develop mouth ulcers.
  • Problems with blood clots in the legs or other areas of the body.
  • Liver problems, including chronic hepatitis and inflammation of the tissues around the bile ducts.

Ulcerative colitis can also cause growth problems in children. Affected children may not grow as quickly or as tall as their peers. Children with ulcerative colitis need attention to their diet to ensure that they get enough nutrients.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Osterman MT, Lichtenstein GR (2010). Ulcerative colitis. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1975–2013. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology
Last Revised October 8, 2012

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