What is Colitis?

Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the inner lining of the colon and rectum. Common symptoms of colitis include abdominal pain, cramps, bloody diarrhea, and fever. In some cases, colitis can lead to life-threatening complications. Treatment options for colitis include medications to reduce inflammation and control symptoms, surgery, and lifestyle changes.

Causes of Colitis

Colitis can be caused by a number of different factors. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Infections: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can lead to colitis.
  • Medications: Certain medications (such as antibiotics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can cause colitis.
  • Autoimmune Diseases: Autoimmune diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease can cause inflamed tissue in the colon.
  • Ischemia: A lack of adequate blood supply to the colon can cause a type of colitis known as ischemic colitis.

Risk Factors for Colitis

Certain factors can increase your risk of developing colitis. These include:

  • Family History: People with a family history of colitis are more likely to develop the disease.
  • Lifestyle Choices: Smoking and drinking alcohol can increase your risk.
  • Age: Inflammatory bowel diseases are most common in people over the age of 40.

Symptoms of Colitis

The symptoms of colitis depend on the cause of the inflammation. Common symptoms of colitis include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting

Treating Colitis

Treatment for colitis depends on the cause and severity of the disease. Common treatment options include:

  • Medications: Corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and antidiarrheal medications are used to reduce inflammation and control symptoms.
  • Diet: A diet low in fiber, fats, and dairy can help reduce symptoms and flare-ups.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be necessary in some cases. This can include removal of the diseased tissue, or an ileoanal pouch procedure to bypass the affected area.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Managing stress and getting regular exercise can help reduce symptoms and flare-ups.