Colitis is swelling (inflammation) of the large intestine (colon).
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
Colitis can have many different causes, including:
- Acute and chronic infections
- Inflammatory disorders (ulcerative colitis, Crohn's colitis, lymphocytic and collagenous colitis)
- Lack of blood flow (ischemic colitis)
- Past radiation to the large bowel
For more information about a specific type of colitis see:
Symptoms can include:
Signs and tests:
The health care provider can diagnose colitis by inserting a flexible tube into the rectum (flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy ) and evaluating specific areas of the colon. Biopsies taken during these tests may show changes related to inflammation.
Other studies that can identify colitis include:
Treatment is directed at the cause of disease (infection, inflammation, lack of blood flow, or another cause).
See the conditions listed above for specific recommendations.
The prognosis varies with each disease. See particular conditions listed above.
Calling your health care provider:
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in the stool
- Expanded (distended) abdomen
Prevention depends upon the cause of colitis. See the specific condition.
|Review Date: 2/20/2008|
Reviewed By: Christian Stone, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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