Colitis is inflammation of the colon. Other parts of your intestines, which includes, the colon, may also be affected. If you have colitis, you will feel discomfort and pain in your abdomen. You symptoms maybe be mild and reoccur over a long period of time. Or you may suffer from severe symptoms that manifest quickly.
Colitis can be categorized by what causes it.
UC is one of two conditions classified as inflammatory bowel disease. (The other is Crohns disease.) UC is a long-lasting disease that produces inflammation and bleeding ulcers in the inner lining of your large intestine. It generally begins in your rectum and spreads to the colon. UC is the most commonly diagnosed type of colitis. It occurs when your immune system overreacts to bacteria in your digestive tract, but experts do not know why this happens. Common types of UC include:
This type of colitis occurs from overgrowth of the bacterium Clostridium difficile. Bacteria of this kind normally live in your intestine but do not cause problems because they are balanced by the presence of other, “good” bacteria. But taking certain medications may destroy healthy bacteria and allow Clostridium difficile to take over. The bacteria release toxins that cause inflammation.
Ischemic colitis occurs when blood flow to you colon is suddenly cut off or restricted. Blood clots are the most common reason for sudden blockage. Atherosclerosis, or the buildup of fatty deposits, in the blood vessels that supply your colon is usually the reason for recurrent IC. This type of colitis is sometimes the result of underlying conditions. These may include:
Although it is rare, IC may occur as a side effect of taking certain medications.
Other causes of colitis include infection from parasites, viruses, and food poisoning from bacteria. You may also develop the condition if your large intestine has been treated with radiation.
Different risk factors are associated with each type of colitis.
You are more at risk for ulcerative colitis if:
You are more at risk for pseudomembranous colitis if:
You are more at risk for ischemic colitis if:
Depending on your condition, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Your physician may ask about the frequency of your symptoms and when they first occurred. He or she will perform a thorough physical exam and use diagnostic tests such as:
Treatments vary by the type of colitis you have, your age, and overall physical condition.
Anti-inflammatory medication may be used to treat swelling and pain, and antibiotics can treat infection.
Surgery to remove part or all of your colon and/or rectum may be necessary if other treatments do not work.
Your outlook depends on the type of colitis you have. Ulcerative colitis may require lifelong medication therapy if surgery is not done. Other types, such as ischemic colitis, usually improve without surgery. Pseudomembranous colitis generally responds well to antibiotics but may recur.
In all cases, early detection is critical to your success. Report any signs and symptoms to your physician. Early detection may help prevent other serious problems such as colon cancer.