What is Colitis?
Colitis is generally used to describe inflammatory diseases of the lower intestine. It includes Crohn's disease and chronic ulcerative proctitis. Ischemic colitis refers to an inflammatory intestinal condition that affects the elderly. Ulcerative colitis is one of the most serious forms of colitis in which tiny ulcers and other inflammations develop in the colon and cause bloody stools or diarrhea. Ulcerative Colitis requires close medical attention.
is usually diagnosed in young adults but can occur at any age. It may also be associated with other disorders such as eye problems and arthritis. Ulcerative colitis tends to recur and the risk of colorectal cancer increases after 8 to 10 years.
Who can get affected by colitis?
Colitis affects upto 2 million people in the US. It can affect men and women, young and old. Colitis generally develops in people while in the teens although it can start during childhood as well. It is most common in the US, England and Northern Europe. People of Jewish origin are most vulnerable while people of African descent are least likely to get it. Ulcerative colitis is rare in Asia, South America and Eastern Europe. However it is now also being observed in developing countries giving rise to the notion that as diets move away from traditional whole grains toward processed foods, the body's digestive system starts to suffer.
What are the symptoms of Colitis?
- Severe abdominal pain
- Persistent diarrhea with blood or pus in the stool
- Bowel movements or diarrhea in the night
- Low fever
- Loss of appetite
- weight loss
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis depend on the severity of the disease
- In mild cases, there can be up to 4 loose bloody stools a day which may temporarily relieve abdominal pain
- Moderate cases may bring 4-8 bloody stools every day along with low fever and weight loss
- In severe cases, there will be more than 6 bloody stools or diarrhea daily and also during the night. There will be fever of 100F or higher and symptoms of anemia
It is important to call your doctor if
- You have constant pain and high fever as you might have toxic megacolon
- You have bleeding from the rectum with clots of blood in the stool
- You have heavy diarrhea
What causes colitis?
The inflammation in colitis is actually a defense mechanism of the body. While normally immune cells are activated if the body is exposed to foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses etc., in colitis, the immune cells of the intestine are activated even when there may be no infection present. While nothing has been proved conclusively, the causes of colitis have been ascribed to
- Eating a highly processed diet without adequate roughage.
- Chronic use of laxatives
- Bacterial and parasitic infections such as salmonella poisoning
- Certain antibiotics such as amoxicillin, ampicillin, cephalosporins, chloramphenicol, chlindamycin, lincomycin, penicillin,tetracycline or trimethoprim. When the drugs are discontinued, colitis symptoms disappear.