Colitis is a chronic digestive disease characterized by inflammation of the inner lining of the colon. Infection, loss of blood supply in the colon, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and invasion of the colon wall with collagen or lymphocytic white blood cells are all possible causes of an inflamed colon.
Different Types of Colitis
There are many different forms of colitis, including:
Video created by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
Signs of Possible Colitis
General signs of colitis can include;
- Intense pain
- Tenderness in the abdomen
- Rapid weight loss
- Aches and pains in the joints
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in bowel habits (increased frequency)
- Swelling of the colon tissue
- Erythema (redness) of the surface of the colon
- Ulcers on the colon (in ulcerative colitis) which may bleed
- Mucus and/or blood in stool and rectal bleeding
- Diarrhea, which may occur, although some forms of colitis involve constipation so the stool and bowel movements may appear normal.
Other symptoms may include gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, gastro esophageal reflux disease, cramps, bowel urgency and many other uncomfortable aches in the gastrointestinal system.
Perforation (rupture) of the bowel:
Intestinal perforation occurs when chronic inflammation weakens the intestinal wall ultimately creating a hole. If a hole forms, a large amount of bacteria can spill into the abdomen and cause infection.
Fulminant colitis: This includes the damage of the thickness of the intestinal wall. The normal contractions of the intestinal wall stop temporarily.
Eventually, the colon loses muscle tone and begins to expand. X-rays of the abdomen can show trapped gas inside the paralyzed sections of the intestine.
Toxic megacolon: The colon dilates and loses its ability to contract properly and move intestinal gas along. Resulting abdominal distension can be severe, and patients should seek medical attention immediately. The goal of treatment is to prevent the bowel from rupturing.
Increased risk of colorectal cancer: The risk of colorectal cancer increases with the duration and severity of the disease.