What Is Colitis?
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Indeterminate colitis
What Are Symptoms of Colitis?
Symptoms of colitis can range from mild to severe and may include:
- Abdominal distention
- Stomach upset
- Watery or mucusy diarrhea
- Frequent stools
- Blood in the stools
- Decreased or absent bowel sounds
- Feeling the need to have a bowel movement or of being unable to complete a bowel movement
- Abdominal cramps and tenderness
- Growth failure (in children)
- Weight loss, diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Joint pain
- Eye problems
What Causes Colitis?
There are a number of different causes of colitis:
- Abnormal immune response (in inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD)
- Likely due to environmental and genetic factors
- Bacteria and viruses are common causes of colitis in the U.S.
- Parasitic infections are common causes of colitis in developing countries
- Reduced blood flow to the intestines (ischemia)
- Inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis)
- Certain medications
Is Colitis Contagious?
There are some types of colitis that are contagious, and some that are not. The types of colitis that are contagious can be transmitted from person-to-person, usually from fecal/oral exposure (such as eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water). Other types may be spread by touching contaminated personal items such as toothbrushes, eating utensils, or clothing, and then touching your face without first washing your hands.
Types of colitis that are contagious include:
How Is Colitis Diagnosed?
A doctor will obtain a medical history and do a physical exam. Diagnostic procedures and tests used to confirm colitis include:
- Stool tests
- Blood tests
- Upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract X-rays
- Lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract X-rays with barium enema
- Upper endoscopy
What Is the Treatment for Colitis?
Colitis is treated with medications, diet, and in severe cases, surgery.
Medications used to treat colitis include:
- Anti-inflammatory agents
- Antidiarrheal medicines
- Loperamide (Imodium)
- Antibiotics for bacterial colitis
- Immunomodulators for ulcerative colitis
Treatment of allergic colitis (usually occurs in infants) includes dietary changes:
- Eliminating the offending protein from the infant’s diet (typically milk or soy)
- Probiotics such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG)
In severe cases of ulcerative colitis, surgery may be indicated in cases of uncontrolled gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, bowel perforation, bowel obstruction, failure to respond to medical therapy, and unacceptable medical toxicity:
- Bowel resection
- Total colectomy if the patient has toxic megacolon or acute fulminant colitis or in certain severe forms of the disease for which medical therapy (including rescue immunosuppressive agents such as infliximab) has failed
What Are Complications of Colitis?
Complications of ulcerative colitis include:
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