Colitis: Types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment

Inflammation of the colon, often known as colitis, is referred to by the word “colitis.” The colon is the large intestine. The colon is a long, tube-like organ that is responsible for eliminating waste materials, electrolytes, and water from the body.

It also plays a role in maintaining fluid balance. When the colon gets inflamed, it can bring on a variety of symptoms, including discomfort in the stomach region, diarrhea, and bleeding from the rectal area.

Types

There are several subtypes of colitis, including but not limited to the following:

Ulcerative colitis is a kind of colitis that is distinguished from other types of colitis by the appearance of ulcers (open sores) on the lining of the colon. It is a long-term disorder that can make the whole colon more irritated and inflamed.

Crohn’s disease is a form of colitis that can affect any region of the digestive tract, from the mouth all the way to the anus. This illness can also be referred to as ulcerative colitis. It is a persistent disease that leads to inflammation and has the potential to result in the development of ulcers.

Infectious colitis: This variety of colitis is brought on by an infection in the colon, such as a bacterial or viral infection. In most cases, it is a temporary illness that may be remedied by taking antibiotics or some other kind of treatment.

Ischemic colitis: This kind of colitis develops when there is a reduction in the amount of blood flow to the colon, which can lead to the breakdown of the tissue in the colon. It is more prevalent in those who are older and can be brought on by a range of conditions, such as atherosclerosis (which is the narrowing of the arteries) and low blood pressure.

Causes

The specific reason why someone develops colitis might change based on the type of colitis they have. The following are some of the most prevalent causes of colitis:

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two kinds of IBD that can lead to inflammation in the colon. There is still a lot of mystery around inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but researchers believe that it is brought on by a confluence of genetic, environmental, and immunological factors.

Infections: There is a wide range of infectious organisms that are capable of causing infectious colitis, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These illnesses can spread by interaction with an infected person, consuming tainted food or water, or coming into direct touch with an infected animal.

Ischemic colitis: This type of colitis can be caused by a decrease in blood flow to the colon, which can be the result of a variety of factors, including atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), and low blood pressure.

Ulcerative colitis: This type of colitis can be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the colon, which can lead to an infection of the colonic mucosa. The use of certain medicines, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or chemotherapy treatments, as well as radiation therapy to the abdominal region, are other possible contributors to the development of colitis.

Symptoms

The symptoms of colitis can range from mild to severe based on the underlying cause of the inflammation as well as the length of time the ailment has been present. Pain and cramping in the abdomen are two of the most typical symptoms of colitis. Other symptoms include diarrhoea, which may be bloody.

  • Bleeding from the rectal area
  • Fever
  • A lack of appetite and weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)

Colitis diagnosis

A physical examination, a review of symptoms, and diagnostic testing are commonly used to diagnose colitis. A healthcare professional would often evaluate the abdomen for symptoms of inflammation, such as discomfort or swelling, during a physical examination.

The healthcare practitioner may also inquire about particular symptoms such as stomach discomfort, bloating, and bowel movement changes. Additional testing may be required in certain cases to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other illnesses with similar symptoms, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or infectious gastroenteritis. Among these tests are:

  • Blood testing: Blood tests can help identify whether the colon is infected or inflammatory.
  • Stool tests: Stool samples can be tested for blood or other abnormalities.
  • Imaging studies: Imaging tests such as a CT scan or an MRI can aid in the visualization of the colon and any abnormalities such as inflammation or ulcers.
  • Colonoscopy: A flexible tube with a camera on the end is put into the rectum and used to inspect the colon during a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy can assist confirm a colitis diagnosis and identify any problems, like as bleeding or obstructions.

Treatment

The severity of the ailment and the underlying cause of the inflammation both have a role in determining how the condition should be treated. The following are some of the most typical techniques of treating colitis:

Medications: It is possible to treat inflammation in the colon using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), as well as with corticosteroids. Infections that lead to colitis are treatable with antibiotics if they are caught early enough. In order to suppress the immune system and aid in the prevention of flare-ups of the disorder, immunosuppressive medicines such as azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine may be prescribed to the patient.

Nutrition: If you have colitis, it is essential to eat a nutritious diet that is rich in nutrients but low in fat. A diet like this should be followed closely. Your healthcare professional may suggest that you follow a certain diet or use nutritional supplements in order to assist control your symptoms and speed up the healing process.

Surgery: In severe cases of colitis, surgery may be required to remove the infected or damaged piece of the colon. Surgery may also be used to repair the damaged area of the colon. If earlier therapies have not been successful or if the problem is producing significant consequences, such as bleeding in the rectal area or a perforation (hole) in the colon, then surgery may be considered as an additional course of therapy.

It is essential to collaborate with a healthcare expert in order to ascertain which kind of therapy would be most effective for your individual circumstance. When it comes to managing the symptoms of colitis and preventing flare-ups of the illness, it is possible that in certain instances a mix of therapies will be required.

Precautions Must be Taken to Prevent Colitis

There are a number of steps you may take to help lower your chance of getting colitis, including the following:

  • Consume a diet that is high in nutrients and low in fat. Eating a diet that is both of these things can help maintain the health of the digestive system and may help lower the chance of getting colitis.
  • Maintain adequate hydration: Consuming a sufficient amount of water may maintain the health of the digestive system as well as aid prevent constipation.
  • Make sure you maintain proper hygiene: Regular hand washing, particularly before and after preparing meals or using the restroom, can help lower the risk of infections that might lead to colitis. Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently is very important.
  • Don’t light up; smoking lowers the body’s natural defenses and raises the likelihood of contracting infections of all kinds, including those that affect the colon.
  • Seek medical attention for any symptoms related to the digestive system If you are experiencing any symptoms related to the digestive system, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, or rectal bleeding, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider in order to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. If these symptoms are ignored, there is a greater chance of developing colitis or another digestive illness.
  • Get immunized: Certain varieties of colitis, such as infectious colitis, can be caused by illnesses that can be prevented by vaccination. Getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid contracting these infections. Have a discussion with your healthcare physician about the vaccinations that are suggested for you. [1]https://pmj.bmj.com/content/postgradmedj/44/515/684.full.pdf[2]www.ibdclinic.ca/media/uploads/ulcerativecolitis_508.pdf[3]Colitis – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics[4]https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/gastroenterology_hepatology/_docs/_pdfs/small_large_intestine/crohns_disease.pdf[5]ROENTGENOLOGY OF INFECTIOUS COLITIS (ajronline.org)[6]Ischaemic colitis | The BMJ

Reviewed by:

Dr. Amjad Hayyat

MBBS, FCPS

Medical specialist

Makhdoom medical complex, Sargodha, Pakistan

For our experts information click here

References

References
1https://pmj.bmj.com/content/postgradmedj/44/515/684.full.pdf
2www.ibdclinic.ca/media/uploads/ulcerativecolitis_508.pdf
3Colitis – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics
4https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/gastroenterology_hepatology/_docs/_pdfs/small_large_intestine/crohns_disease.pdf
5ROENTGENOLOGY OF INFECTIOUS COLITIS (ajronline.org)
6Ischaemic colitis | The BMJ

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