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Ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis


Large intestine
Large intestine


Definition:

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:

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:

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.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

The prognosis varies with each disease. See particular conditions listed above.



Complications:

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:

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.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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