Ulcerative Colitis Glossary

Understanding ulcerative colitis (UC) and how it affects you is essential to making the most of your treatment. Here are some terms that relate to ulcerative colitis that you may have read or heard your doctor use that will enhance your understanding of your condition and your treatment.

Abdominal distention

When the abdomen is enlarged or swollen due to internal pressure in the intestines.

Abdominal pain

Pain in the belly (abdomen). Abdominal pain can come from conditions affecting a variety of organs. In ulcerative colitis, the organ causing pain is usually the large intestine.

Anti-diarrheal medication

Refers to over-the-counter medications like lmodium® and Pepto-Bismol® that help relieve diarrhea.

Anti-inflammatory medication

Drugs used to control inflammation. In ulcerative colitis, these may include sulfasalazine or other medications containing mesalamine (5-ASA agents), and corticosteroids.

Barium enema X-ray

This diagnostic test allows the doctor to evaluate the entire large intestine with an X-ray. Barium, a contrast solution, is placed into the bowel using an enema. Sometimes air is added as well. The barium coats the lining, creating a silhouette of the rectum, colon, and a portion of the small intestine. This test is rarely used anymore, and it can be dangerous because the pressure required to inflate and coat the colon can lead to rupture of the colon. For people with severe symptoms, flexible sigmoidoscopy combined with a CT scan is a better alternative.

Biologics

Biologics are the most recently developed medications for the treatment of moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. Biologic drugs are engineered to target a specific inflammatory protein or enzyme in the body. They can lower your immune system's ability to fight infections.

Blood tests

For people with ulcerative colitis, sometimes blood tests are needed to check for anemia or infection. Tests that look for the presence of certain antibodies can sometimes help diagnose which type of inflammatory bowel disease a patient has, but these tests alone can’t make a definite diagnosis.

Bowel

Another name for the intestine. The small bowel and the large bowel are the small intestine and large intestine, respectively.

Colectomy (and Proctocolectomy)

Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the entire colon (colectomy). The end of the small intestine (the ileum) is then joined to the rectum. In a proctocolectomy, both the colon and rectum are removed. An ileostomy must then be performed to bring the end of the small intestine (ileum) through a hole (stoma) in the abdominal wall, allowing drainage of intestinal waste out of the body.

Colon

The large intestine; serves to remove water from digested food and moves the remaining solid waste (stool) to the rectum.

Colonoscopy

This procedure enables the doctor to examine the entire colon using a thin, flexible, lighted tube with an attached camera. During the procedure, the doctor can also take small samples of tissue (biopsy) for laboratory analysis. Sometimes a tissue sample can help confirm a diagnosis.

Computerized tomography (CT) scan

A CT scan of the abdomen or pelvis may be performed if the doctor suspects a complication from ulcerative colitis, or inflammation of the small intestine that might suggest Crohn's disease. A CT scan may also reveal how much of the colon is inflamed.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy

A test in which the doctor passes a flexible instrument into the rectum and lower colon, allowing him or her to see the sigmoid colon and how far inflammation has spread, and how severe it is.

Immunosuppressive medication

Medications that block the body's immune response, which can cause inflammation. Types of immunosuppressants that may be used to treat ulcerative colitis include azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine, and cyclosporine.

Inflammation

A reaction by the body to infection, irritation, or other injury that includes swelling and pain; a type of immune response.

Rectum

The last 6 to 8 inches of the large intestine. The rectum stores solid waste until it leaves the body through the anus.

Resection

If a constricted area of the intestine, or stricture, is long, or there are multiple strictures close to one another, it may be necessary to remove the affected section of the intestine. The 2 ends of healthy intestine are then joined together.

Stool test

The presence of white blood cells in the stool can be indicative of ulcerative colitis. A stool sample can also help rule out disorders caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. In particular, infection with the bacterium Clostridium difficile can be responsible for diarrhea, but it's also more common among people with ulcerative colitis. The sample can also be used to check for a bowel infection, which is more likely to occur in people with ulcerative colitis.

TNF

Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a protein in the body. Excess levels of this protein cause inflammation in certain areas of the body. In ulcerative colitis, the affected area is the large intestine.

What is HUMIRA?

HUMIRA is a prescription medicine used in adults to help get moderate to severe ulcerative colitis under control (induce remission) and keep it under control (sustain remission) when certain other medicines have not worked well enough. It is not known if HUMIRA is effective in people who stopped responding to or could not tolerate anti-TNF medicines.

Important Safety Information About HUMIRA® (adalimumab)1

What is the most important information I should know about HUMIRA?

You should discuss the potential benefits and risks of HUMIRA with your doctor. HUMIRA is a TNF blocker medicine that can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. You should not start taking HUMIRA if you have any kind of infection unless your doctor says it is okay.

  • Serious infections have happened in people taking HUMIRA. These serious infections include tuberculosis (TB) and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections. Your doctor should test you for TB before starting HUMIRA, and check you closely for signs and symptoms of TB during treatment with HUMIRA. If your doctor feels you are at risk, you may be treated with medicine for TB.

  • Cancer. For children and adults taking TNF blockers, including HUMIRA, the chance of getting lymphoma or other cancers may increase. There have been cases of unusual cancers in children, teenagers, and young adults using TNF blockers. Some people have developed a rare type of cancer called hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma. This type of cancer often results in death. If using TNF blockers including HUMIRA, your chance of getting two types of skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell) may increase. These types are generally not life-threatening if treated; tell your doctor if you have a bump or open sore that doesn’t heal.


What should I tell my doctor BEFORE starting HUMIRA?

Tell your doctor about all of your health conditions, including if you:

  • Have an infection, are being treated for infection, or have symptoms of an infection
  • Get a lot of infections or infections that keep coming back
  • Have diabetes
  • Have TB or have been in close contact with someone with TB, or were born in, lived in, or traveled where there is more risk for getting TB
  • Live or have lived in an area (such as the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys) where there is an increased risk for getting certain kinds of fungal infections, such as histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, or blastomycosis
  • Have or have had hepatitis B
  • Are scheduled for major surgery
  • Have or have had cancer
  • Have numbness or tingling or a nervous system disease such as multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Have or had heart failure
  • Have recently received or are scheduled to receive a vaccine. HUMIRA patients may receive vaccines, except for live vaccines
  • Are allergic to rubber, latex, or any HUMIRA ingredients
  • Are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to breastfeed

Also tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. You should not take HUMIRA with ORENCIA® (abatacept), KINERET® (anakinra), REMICADE® (infliximab), ENBREL® (etanercept), CIMZIA® (certolizumab pegol), or SIMPONI® (golimumab). Tell your doctor if you have ever used RITUXAN® (rituximab), IMURAN® (azathioprine), or PURINETHOL® (mercaptopurine, 6-MP).


What should I watch for AFTER starting HUMIRA?

HUMIRA can cause serious side effects, including:

  • Serious infections. These include TB and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria. Symptoms related to TB include a cough, low-grade fever, weight loss, or loss of body fat and muscle.
  • Hepatitis B infection in carriers of the virus. Symptoms include muscle aches, feeling very tired, dark urine, skin or eyes that look yellow, little or no appetite, vomiting, clay-colored bowel movements, fever, chills, stomach discomfort, and skin rash.
  • Allergic reactions. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include hives, trouble breathing, and swelling of your face, eyes, lips, or mouth.
  • Nervous system problems. Signs and symptoms include numbness or tingling, problems with your vision, weakness in your arms or legs, and dizziness.
  • Blood problems. Symptoms include a fever that does not go away, bruising or bleeding very easily, or looking very pale.
  • Heart failure (new or worsening). Symptoms include shortness of breath, swelling of your ankles or feet, and sudden weight gain.
  • Immune reactions including a lupus-like syndrome. Symptoms include chest discomfort or pain that does not go away, shortness of breath, joint pain, or rash on your cheeks or arms that gets worse in the sun.
  • Liver problems. Symptoms include feeling very tired, skin or eyes that look yellow, poor appetite or vomiting, and pain on the right side of your stomach (abdomen).
  • Psoriasis (new or worsening). Symptoms include red scaly patches or raised bumps that are filled with pus.

Call your doctor or get medical care right away if you develop any of the above symptoms.


Common side effects of HUMIRA include injection site reactions (redness, rash, swelling, itching, or bruising), upper respiratory infections (sinus infections), headaches, rash, and nausea. These are not all of the possible side effects with HUMIRA. Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.


Remember, tell your doctor right away if you have an infection or symptoms of an infection, including:

  • Fever, sweats, or chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blood in phlegm
  • Weight loss
  • Warm, red, or painful skin or sores on your body
  • Diarrhea or stomach pain
  • Burning when you urinate
  • Urinating more often than normal
  • Feeling very tired

HUMIRA is given by injection under the skin.


This is the most important information to know about HUMIRA. For more information, talk to your health care provider.

 

Uses

 

HUMIRA is a prescription medicine used:

  • To reduce the signs and symptoms of:
    • Moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in adults. HUMIRA can be used alone, with methotrexate, or with certain other medicines. HUMIRA may prevent further damage to your bones and joints and may help your ability to perform daily activities.
    • Moderate to severe polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) in children 4 years of age and older. HUMIRA can be used alone, with methotrexate, or with certain other medicines.
    • Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) in adults. HUMIRA can be used alone or with certain other medicines. HUMIRA may prevent further damage to your bones and joints and may help your ability to perform daily activities.
    • Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) in adults.
    • Moderate to severe Crohn's disease (CD) and to achieve and maintain clinical remission in adults who have not responded well to conventional treatments. HUMIRA is also for these adults who have lost response to or are unable to tolerate infliximab.
  • In adults, to help get moderate to severe ulcerative colitis (UC) under control (induce remission) and keep it under control (sustain remission) when certain other medicines have not worked well enough. It is not known if HUMIRA is effective in people who stopped responding to or could not tolerate anti-TNF medicines.
  • To treat moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis (Ps) in adults who are ready for systemic therapy or phototherapy, and are under the care of a doctor who will decide if other systemic therapies are less appropriate.

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Please see the Full Prescribing Information, including the Medication Guide, for HUMIRA.

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 cannot afford your medication, contact: www.pparx.org or call the toll-free phone number (1-888-4PPA-NOW) for assistance.

Safety Considerations1

Serious infections have happened in people taking HUMIRA. These serious infections include tuberculosis (TB) and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections. HUMIRA may increase the chance of getting lymphoma, including a rare kind, or other cancers. HUMIRA can cause serious side effects including hepatitis B infection in carriers of the virus, allergic reactions, nervous system problems, blood problems, heart failure, certain immune reactions including a lupus-like syndrome, liver problems, and new or worsening psoriasis.

Uses1

HUMIRA is a prescription medicine used in adults to help get moderate to severe ulcerative colitis under control (induce remission) and keep it under control (sustain remission) when certain other medicines have not worked well enough. It is not known if HUMIRA is effective in people who stopped responding to or could not tolerate anti-TNF medicines.

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