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Ulcerative Colitis Statistics

Ulcerative colitis is more common than Crohn’s disease in the United States.1 Of the 1.6 million Americans with inflammatory bowel disease, about 907,000 of them have ulcerative colitis.1 Between 2 and 14 people are diagnosed with ulcerative colitis per 100,000 person-years.2 

Ulcerative colitis age and gender

Ulcerative colitis is more common in adults than in children (Table).3 This disease is most often diagnosed in late adolescence or early adulthood, between ages 15 and 35.1,2 Ulcerative colitis is equally common in males and females.3

Table. Prevalence of Ulcerative Colitis by Age

Age Group Cases per 100,000 people
Adults (≥20 years) 263.0
Children and Adolescents (<20 years) 33.9

From: Kappelman MD, et al. Dig Dis Sci. 2013;58:519-525.

Race and ulcerative colitis

Inflammatory bowel disease affects people of all racial and ethnic groups. The information about how common ulcerative colitis is in different racial/ethnic groups is limited. However, it seems to be more common in whites than African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, or American Indians.4 Racial and ethnic gaps are narrowing.5

Geography and ulcerative colitis

In the United States, ulcerative colitis is more common in the Northeast and Midwest compared with the South and West.3

Inflammatory bowel disease is more common in industrialized countries than in developing countries. This leads researchers to believe that factors related to a westernized lifestyle have a role in ulcerative colitis. These factors may include diet, sunlight exposure, pollution and industrial chemicals.5

Although the incidence of ulcerative colitis is still much higher in the west than in other parts of the world, the number of new cases is rising in Latin America, Asia, and eastern Europe.6 The number of new cases of ulcerative colitis in western Europe and North America seems to have stabilized.

Costs of ulcerative colitis

The available cost estimates for ulcerative colitis are based on decade-old data. With advances in treatment, including expensive biologic therapies and changes in surgical treatment, current costs may be higher.

The total cost of ulcerative colitis is estimated to be about $2.7 billion each year.7 The average yearly medical expenses per patient is $7,948. Nearly 40% of the cost is due to hospitalization. Medications accounted for 28% of the cost. Outpatient care accounted for 35% of the cost.

There are additional indirect costs of ulcerative colitis. These are the costs of time missed from work, decreased productivity at work, and loss of leisure time. These costs are difficult to measure, but they are important when considering the full impact of inflammatory bowel disease for society. One survey from 1999 showed that nearly one-third of patients with inflammatory bowel disease had been out of the work force in the previous year. The estimated cost of being unable to participate in the work force was $5,228 per person with inflammatory bowel disease.8


Written by: Anna Nicholson | Last Reviewed: January 2016.
  1. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. The facts about inflammatory bowel disease. Accessed 3/15/16 at:
  2. Loftus EV Jr. Clinical epidemiology of inflammatory bowel disease: Incidence, prevalence, and environmental influences. Gastroenterology. 2004;126:1504-1517. Full Text2
  3. Kappelman MD, Moore KR, Allen JK, Cook SF. Recent trends in the prevalence of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis in a commercially insured US population. Dig Dis Sci. 2013;58:519-525. Full Text
  4. Betteridge JD, Armbruster SP, Maydonovitch C, Veerappan GR. Inflammatory bowel disease prevalence by age, gender, race, and geographic location in the U.S. military health care population. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2013;19:1421-1417. Abstract
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiology of the IBD. Accessed 3/14/16 at:
  6. Lakatos PL. Recent trends in the epidemiology of inflammatory bowel diseases: up or down? World J Gastroenterol. 2006;12:6102-6108.
  7. Kappelman MD, Rifas-Shiman SL, Porter CQ, et al. Direct health care costs of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis in US children and adults. Gastroenterology. 2008;135:1907-1913. Full Text
  8. Longobardi T, Jacobs P, Bernstein CN. Work losses related to inflammatory bowel disease in the United States: results from the National Health Interview Survey. Am J Gastroenterol. 2003;98:1064-1072.