Symptoms and Signs of Colitis

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 7/22/2022

Doctor's Notes on Colitis

Colitis refers to inflammation of the lining of the large intestine (large bowel or colon). There are a number of different causes of colitis. Some types of colitis include: 

  • infectious colitis, 
  • inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease), 
  • microscopic colitis, and 
  • ischemic colitis, in which tissue death occurs due to a reduction in blood supply to the colon.

Symptoms of colitis arise due to the inflammation present in the bowel wall. Signs and symptoms include:

  • abdominal pain
  • abdominal cramping, 
  • diarrhea, and 
  • blood in the stool (either visible to the naked eye or detected by a laboratory test). 

Depending on the cause of the colitis, other symptoms can occur. Associated signs and symptoms may include: 

What Is the Treatment for Colitis?

Treatment for colitis depends upon the cause and severity of the condition. Treatment options may include:

  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections
  • Supportive care and fluids with dietary modifications (bowel rest)
  • Anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressant medications
  • Surgery to remove all or part of the colon 
  • Biologic therapies
  • Antispasmodic medications
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Pain medications

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.