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Colitis Facts

  • Colitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the colon.
  • There are many causes of colitis, for example, infections (food poisoning from E. coli, Salmonella), poor blood supply, and autoimmune reactions.
  • Symptoms of colitis include
    • diarrhea that may have blood
    • frequent and small bowel movements,
    • abdominal pain and cramping
    • constipation
  • Individuals with colitis may have mild, moderate or severe colitis.
  • Types of colitis include microscopic colitis, C. diff colitis, infectious colitis, ischemic colitis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (one type of inflammatory bowel disease), and chemical colitis.
  • The diagnosis of colitis is made by patient history, physical examination, laboratory tests, colonoscopy, and imaging tests.
  • Treatment for colitis depends on the specific type of colitis.

What is colitis?

Colitis is an inflammation of the colon, also known as the large intestine. While there are many causes of colitis including infections, poor blood supply (ischemia), and autoimmune reactions, they share common symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhea.

What are the symptoms of colitis?

Symptoms of colitis will depend upon the type of colitis a person has, but in general, colitis most often is associated with abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Other symptoms of colitis that may or may not be present include

  • Blood in the bowel movement may be present depending on the underlying disease. Diarrhea can sometimes cause hemorrhoids, which can bleed. However, blood with a bowel movement is not normal and the affected person should contact their health-care professional or seek other medical care.
  • The constant urge to have a bowel movement (tenesmus).
  • The abdominal pain may come in waves, building to diarrhea, and then waning.
  • There may be constant pain.
  • Fever, chills, and other signs of infection and inflammation may be present depending upon the cause of colitis.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/4/2016

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Colitis »

Colitis is an inflammation of the colon. It may be associated with enteritis (inflammation of the intestine) and/or proctitis (inflammation of the rectum).

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