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Colitis (cont.)

What causes IBD, microscopic, and chemical colitis?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Colitis

There are two types of inflammatory bowel disease; 1) ulcerative colitis, and 2) Crohn's disease.

  • Ulcerative colitis is thought to be an autoimmune illness in which the body's immune system attacks the colon and causes inflammation. Ulcerative colitis begins in the rectum and may gradually spread throughout the colon. The signs and symptoms include abdominal pain and bloody bowel movements.
  • Crohn's disease may involve any part of the digestive tract from the mouth, esophagus and stomach, through to the small and large intestine all the way to the rectum and anus. It often has skip lesions, that is diseased areas are interspersed with healthy areas of tissue.

Microscopic Colitis

  • Two diseases make up this group of colon inflammation, collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis. In these diseases, the inflammation is caused when the colon wall becomes engorged with either collagen or lymphocytes. Watery, non-bloody diarrhea is the most common symptom.
  • This is an uncommon illness that is seen more frequently in older women. The cause is unknown but an autoimmune potential may exist.

Chemical Colitis

  • If chemicals are instilled into the colon, inflammation and damage can occur. One of the complications of an enema is inflammation of the mucosal lining of the colon caused by harsh chemicals.

Medication-associated colitis

  • Colitis can be caused by some over-the-counter and prescription medications such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), mycophenolate, ipilimumab, and retinoic acid.

When to Seek Medical Care for Colitis

Diarrhea is a common symptom of colitis, and most episodes resolve in a matter of hours.

Medical care should be accessed if any of the following conditions exist:

  • persistent diarrhea,
  • dehydration (symptoms of dehydration include lightheadedness; weakness; decreased urination; dry mouth, eyes, and skin.
  • fever,
  • significant abdominal pain, and/or
  • blood in the bowel movement.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/4/2016

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

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).

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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