What is colitis?
Colitis means inflammation of the colon. The colon, also known as the large intestine or large bowel, is the last part of the digestive tract.
What are the symptoms of colitis?
Sometimes there may be no symptoms. Other times there may be diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps and/or rectal bleeding. The inflammation may alter the absorption of water from the colon and cause diarrhea.
What causes colitis?
There are different types of colitis with different causes. A tissue sample (biopsy) may have been taking during your colonoscopy to look under a microscope for your possible cause. Some types of colitis are:
- Infectious colitis caused by bacteria or virus.
- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis — two related conditions that are caused by your body’s immune system making antibodies that create changes in your digestive tract.
- Radiation colitis – following radiation treatment for prostate cancer.
- Ischemic colitis – blockage of an artery in the colon by a blood clot. If the blood clot interrupts the flow of blood to a part of the colon, the result is inflammation of that part and, sometimes, even death—gangrene—to that part of the colon.
- Microsopic colitis – inflammation visible only when the colon’s lining is examined under a microscope. The colon (and its inner lining) looks normal during the colonoscopy. The cause(s) of microscopic colitis is unknown.
How is colitis treated?
It depends on your type of colitis. To decrease the diarrhea your doctor may suggest an anti-diarrheal medicine, over the counter agents, like Imodium or Lomotil. Avoid NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil. Watch your diet for any foods/ liquids that give you diarrhea (such as the lactose in milk).
Your doctor may order drugs to help with some of the symptoms like steroids, mesalamine (5-ASA) products such as Asacol, Pentasa or Colazal, immune suppressant agents such as azathioprine, and/or antibiotics.
If a biopsy was taken during your test, your doctor will let you know your results and treatment plan based on the biopsy results.