Diagnosing ulcerative colitis

How do I know if I have ulcerative colitis?

While there is no one single test that can diagnose ulcerative colitis (UC), your doctor can use a combination of physical examinations, laboratory tests, and other tests (such as imaging tests and/or diagnostic procedures) to confirm a diagnosis of UC. These tests together will allow your doctor to confirm whether you have UC, and to choose a treatment that's right for you.

  • Your initial visit
  • The first thing your doctor will want to do is confirm that you are suffering from UC and not something else, such as an infection.

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, family history, diet, and lifestyle.

    You may be asked to give a stool sample, which will be tested for the presence of infection.

    The doctor may also take a blood sample in order to analyze your blood to look for conditions such as anemia.

  • Confirming the diagnosis with endoscopy
  • If your doctor suspects that you have UC, the next step is to look for visible damage to your colon. This is done by performing a procedure called an endoscopy, which is also known as a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.

    During a colonoscopy, your doctor will insert a thin flexible camera through the anus to inspect the lining of your colon. The scope procedure will allow your doctor to see what area of the colon is affected and the severity of your disease. Your doctor may also decide to take a biopsy (a sample of tissue) for further testing.

    Although these tests sound uncomfortable, they are routine procedures. Most importantly, they may be used to explain the causes of your symptoms and become the first step in learning how to manage them.

  • Speaking with your doctor
  • It can be hard to talk about something like diarrhea or rectal bleeding with anybody, much less a doctor you just met. Whether you're dealing with a general practitioner or a gastroenterologist, you should understand it's their job to help you. They deal with these conditions every day and know exactly how serious they can be. It can be tough, but speaking up about your symptoms is your first step to addressing your condition.

    Before your visit, you may want to have a list of questions ready to make sure you get all of the information you need.

    Whether it’s for you or your child, here are some sample questions you can ask the doctor:

    1. How can I be sure that I have UC?
    2. Should I change my diet because of UC?
    3. What should I eat during a flare-up?
    4. Do I need to be concerned about nutritional deficiencies because of UC?
    5. What tests will be used to monitor my UC?
    6. Can medications help me?
    7. What else can I do to improve my health?
  • Causes of UC
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  • Severity of UC
  • See More Important Risk Information

    What is DELZICOL?

    DELZICOL® (mesalamine) delayed-release capsules is a prescription medication approved for the treatment of mildly to moderately active ulcerative colitis (UC) in patients 5 years of age and older and for the maintenance of remission of UC in adults.


    Do not take DELZICOL if you are:

    • Allergic to salicylates or aminosalicylates, such as aspirin or medications that contain aspirin
    • Allergic to any of the ingredients of DELZICOL

    Before taking DELZICOL, tell your doctor if you:

    • Have or have had kidney problems
    • Are allergic to sulfasalazine
    • Have or have had heart-related allergic reactions, such as inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) or inflammation of the lining of the heart (pericarditis)
    • Take any iron-containing supplements
    • Have or have had liver problems
    • Have or have had a stomach blockage
    • Are pregnant, nursing, or are planning to become pregnant or to breastfeed
    • Have any other medical conditions

    Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Taking DELZICOL with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may cause kidney problems. Taking DELZICOL with azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine may cause blood problems. Ask your doctor if you are not sure if you are taking one of these medicines. Your doctor may do certain tests during treatment with DELZICOL.

    What are the possible side effects of DELZICOL?

    DELZICOL may cause serious side effects, including:

    • Kidney Problems. Your doctor may check to see how your kidneys are working before taking DELZICOL.
    • Acute Intolerance Syndrome and Other Allergic Reactions. Some people who use DELZICOL can have allergic-type reactions, including acute intolerance syndrome. Other allergic reactions can cause heart problems, including an inflammation of the sac around the heart (pericarditis), blood problems, and problems with other organs in the body, such as the kidneys, liver, and lungs. When this happens, it is usually in people who have had an allergic reaction to sulfasalazine. Stop using DELZICOL and tell your doctor right away if you get any of these symptoms: cramping, stomach (abdominal) pain, bloody diarrhea, fever, headache, chest pain, a decrease in the amount of your urine, shortness of breath, eye inflammation, fatigue, and rash.
    • Liver Failure. This can happen in people who have a history of liver problems and have taken other medicines that contain mesalamine. Tell your doctor right away if you get any of these symptoms while using DELZICOL: yellowing of your eyes, itchy skin, feeling very tired, flu-like symptoms, nausea, or vomiting.
    • Serious Skin Reactions. Some people who use DELZICOL can have severe skin reactions. Stop using DELZICOL and tell your doctor right away if you develop any of the following signs or symptoms of a severe skin reaction, including blisters or peeling of your skin, mouth sores, blisters on your lips or around your mouth or eyes, high fever or flu-like symptoms, enlarged lymph nodes, or skin rash.
    • Sun Sensitivity. DELZICOL can make your skin sensitive to the sun if you have skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and atopic eczema. Try to limit your time in the sun. You should use sunscreen and wear a hat and clothes that cover your skin if you have to be in the sunlight.
    • Kidney Stones. Drink plenty of fluids when using DELZICOL to decrease your chance of getting kidney stones. Call your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms: severe pain in your side or your back or blood in your urine.

    The most common side effects of DELZICOL include:

    • Adults: belching, stomachache, constipation, dizziness, runny nose, back pain, rash, upset stomach, and flu symptoms.
    • Children (5 to 17 years of age): inflammation of the nose and pharynx, headache, stomachache, dizziness, inflammation of the sinuses, rash, cough, diarrhea, tiredness, fever, and increased lipase.

    Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. These are not all the possible side effects of DELZICOL.

    You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

    If you are having difficulty paying for your medicine, AbbVie may be able to help. Visit AbbVie.com/myAbbVieAssist to learn more.

    Please see full Prescribing Information for DELZICOL.

    The product information provided on this site is intended only for residents of the United States. The products discussed on this site may have different product labeling outside of the United States.

    The health information described on this site is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for discussions with a healthcare provider.