Colitis is inflammation of the large intestine or colon. This article provides some information about the symptoms, causes, and treatment for this condition.
The term colitis refers to the inflammation of the inner lining of the colon. The condition is classified into different types, according to the underlying cause. The symptoms and treatment depend on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition.
Irrespective of the type, the common symptoms of colitis include pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen, joint pain, increased frequency of bowel movement, fever, ulcers in the colon, blood or mucus in the stool, and rectal bleeding. While some forms of colitis are characterized by diarrhea, constipation occurs in other types. Colitis may be accompanied with bloating and indigestion, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, and cramps.
Infectious colitis is caused by viral or bacterial infection of the colon. Ischemic colitis is caused by blockage in the artery that supplies blood to the muscles in the walls of the colon. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s colitis (jointly called inflammatory bowel disease) are caused when the colon is attacked by the body’s immune system. Microscopic colitis, which includes collagenous and lymphocytic colitis is caused by the accumulation of collagen or lymphocytes in some parts of the colon wall. Exposure of the colon to harsh chemicals can result in chemical colitis. Colitis can be diagnosed through X-ray, stool test, stool culture, blood tests, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy.
The treatment for this disease depends on the specific type of colitis, its severity, and its underlying cause. Usually, the primary treatment includes rehydration of the patient and medication for controlling pain. If the patient cannot tolerate the oral intake of fluids, then intravenous methods are adopted. Treatment includes use of antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In some cases, surgery may be suggested, especially when the patient experiences regular attacks of the disease.
If left untreated, colitis can cause damage to the lining of the colon wall and may also result in colon cancer. According to some studies, the risk of colon cancer is higher in people suffering from colitis. As per statistics, about 5% of people with colitis develop colon cancer, at a later stage. If the entire colon is impaired, then the risk is 32 times higher, than in normal people. Those with dysplasia (precancerous changes) of the colon lining, are more susceptible to develop colon cancer due to colitis.
Colitis can be prevented to some extent by maintaining hygiene while cooking and eating food. A healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet is always advisable. It is also observed that a change in diet reduces the intensity of the disease. Avoid consumption of caffeine, spicy food, refined sugar, and soft drinks. Drink lots of water and consume vegetables and fruits. Moderate exercise is also necessary for a fit body. Adopt a healthy lifestyle and keep your body free of diseases.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.