Crohn's / IBD GastroIntestinal / Gastroenterology Ulcerative Colitis

Colitis: What you need to know

Colitis is an inflammation of the colon’s lining. Colitis can be caused by a variety of causes. A person suffering from colitis will have abdominal pain, discomfort, and diarrhea.

Colitis people may have either modest chronic pain or acute and abrupt pain. There are various forms of colitis, and many of them have symptoms that overlap.

This page discusses colitis, its various kinds, causes, symptoms, and treatments.

What is colitis?

colitis

Colitis is an inflammation of the lining of the colon. Inflammation of the large intestine can occur for a variety of reasons. Infection, for example, is one of the most common causes.

The two most common kinds of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

This condition primarily affects people between the ages of 15 and 35, with a second peak occurring in people between the ages of 60 and 70.

Colitis is frequently chronic, and there is no cure. A person can, however, receive therapy for the condition and effectively manage it.

Types of colitis

Colitis is classified into several types. These are some examples:

  • ulcerative colitis
  • pseudomembranous colitis
  • microscopic colitis
  • ischemic colitis
  • cytomegalovirus colitis
  • allergic colitis in infants

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the large intestine (the colon or large bowel) and the rectum.

Small sores or ulcers can form on the colon’s lining, causing it to bleed and create pus.

Symptoms

Ulcerative colitis symptoms may include:

  • bleeding from the rectum
  • sores on the skin
  • fatigue
  • blood and pus in the stool
  • delayed growth in children
  • pain in the abdomen
  • diarrhea
  • anemia
  • weight loss
  • joint pain

Causes

Doctors classify ulcerative colitis as an autoimmune condition.

According to research, an unusual immune response occurs. This response is produced by a bacterial contact in the colon and the body’s immune system, which subsequently destroys the colon’s tissue. Inflammation causes from this attack.

It is unclear what causes the immune system to act in this manner. Experts believe that a number of factors, including genetics and environmental circumstances, may play a role.

Treatment

Medication, such as the following, may be prescribed as part of the treatment.

  • aminosalicylates
  • biologic therapies, such as infliximab (Remicade)
  • corticosteroids
  • immunosuppressants

Flare-ups are normally treatable at home, but severe flare-ups may necessitate hospitalization.

In severe flares, a person may require surgery to remove parts of their colon.

Pseudomembranous colitis

The colon becomes inflamed in pseudomembranous colitis due to an overgrowth of the bacteria Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile). This can happen if a person has a weaker immune system or if there is an imbalance in gut bacteria as a result of recent antibiotic treatment.

Symptoms

Pseudomembranous colitis symptoms include:

  • fever
  • bloody stools
  • urge to have a bowel movement
  • frequent watery diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps

Causes

An overgrowth of C. difficile bacteria is frequently caused by a disruption in normal gut flora after a course of antibiotics. Certain strains of C. difficile are drug resistant, have the ability to overgrow, and can cause inflammation and bleeding.

Treatment

A person with this condition must discontinue use of any drugs that are causing the problem. Vancomycin or fidaxomicin, for example, may be prescribed by a doctor (Dificid).

The individual may also be given intravenous (IV) fluids. Doctors may need to conduct a colectomy in severe situations.

Fecal microbiota transplant is a novel therapy option for reoccurring illnesses.

Microscopic colitis

Microscopic colitis is a condition in which the immune system fails, resulting in inflammation of the colon lining.

The condition can affect people of any age, but it is more common in women and older adults.

Symptoms

Symptoms could include:

  • urgent need to have bowel movement
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • cramping and pain in the abdomen
  • persistent watery diarrhea
  • nighttime diarrhea
  • bloating and gas

Causes

The exact cause of microscopic colitis is unknown, but experts suspect it is caused by a combination of genetics and unusual immune system responses.

Some medications might cause microscopic colitis, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about what you ‘re taking.

The following medications may cause this type of colitis:

Treatment

For microscopic colitis, doctors may give the following medications:

  • antidiarrheal medications
  • aminosalicylates
  • immunosuppressants
  • corticosteroids
  • biologics
  • bile acid binders

Ischemic colitis

Ischemic colitis is caused by a reduction in colon blood flow.

It’s usually associated with older people who have underlying cardiovascular problems, according to experts. Young people, on the other hand, can develop the condition.

Symptoms

Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • tender stomach
  • pain after eating
  • an urgent need for a bowel movement
  • pain and cramping, typically on the left side of the abdomen
  • nausea
  • bloody diarrhea
  • vomiting

Causes

Reduced blood flow to the colon causes ischemic colitis. This can occur for a variety of reasons, including hardened arteries in people suffering from peripheral vascular disease or coronary artery disease.

Reduced blood flow can be caused by a variety of circumstances, including:

  • conditions that affect the blood, such as anemia
  • use of methamphetamines or cocaine
  • bowel obstructions due to hernias, tumors, or scar tissue
  • surgical procedures that involve the colon, heart, or blood vessels
  • low blood pressure
  • blood clots in the arteries that lead to the colon

Treatment

Ischemic colitis treatment is determined on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, a doctor may prescribe:

  • medication to relieve pain
  • broad-spectrum antibiotics to prevent infection
  • IV fluid to prevent dehydration

A doctor may also address any underlying disorders that are causing the condition. They may advise against taking drugs that cause blood vessel narrowing.

A doctor will treat the condition as an emergency if it is severe or acute. They could:

  • prescribe medications to widen narrowed arteries or treat blood clots
  • recommend surgery

Approximately 20% of people with ischemic colitis require surgery.

Cytomegalovirus colitis

The human herpesvirus family comprises cytomegalovirus (CMV) colitis.

CMV colitis is particularly common in people who are immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. It can, however, occur in healthy people who do not have a compromised immune system. The average age of these people is 68 years

Symptoms

CMV colitis may not cause any symptoms in some people, or it may be a self-limited disease that goes away on its own.

Other people with CMV colitis, on the other hand, may experience nonspecific symptoms such as:

  • fever
  • rectal bleeding
  • diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • abdominal pain

Causes

CMV colitis is particularly common in people who are immunocompromised, such as those who have:

Further study has discovered a number of risk factors for CMV colitis in people who have normal immune responses, generally known as immunocompetent people. These are some of the risk factors:

  • renal diseases
  • people on hemodialysis
  • neurological disorders
  • people in an intensive care unit

Treatment

Antiviral medications may not be necessary for the majority of people with CMV colitis who are immunocompetent.

Doctors may consider antiviral medication in immunocompetent people based on their age and medical history. Antiviral medicines may be used to treat CMV colitis, but more research is needed to see if they are successful.

Allergic colitis in infants

When a baby’s immune system overreacts to the proteins in cow’s milk, allergic colitis can develop. Other allergies, such as soy, can cause the same reaction. Inflammation of the colon occurs as a result of this reaction.

Allergic colitis affects approximately 2%–3% of infants.

Symptoms

Some babies are far more sensitive to milk protein than others, resulting in more severe symptoms.

Allergic colitis can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • flecks or streaks of blood in the stool
  • difficulty consoling
  • diarrhea and vomiting
  • other signs of allergies, such as nasal congestion or eczema
  • irritability
  • gassiness
  • mucus in the stools

A baby’s first year of life includes a time of reflux, or spitting up of food. Reflux may be a problem for babies with allergic colitis.

Causes

Allergic colitis is caused by the mother’s immune system changing throughout pregnancy, as well as the immaturity of the baby’s immune system. It is unknown, however, why some babies have the condition while others do not.

Allergy colitis appears to be more common in babies with a family history of food allergies, asthma, or environmental allergies.

Treatment

When an infant gets blood in their stool, it is usually due to a milk allergy, which may be treated.

Doctors may place breastfeeding people on a dairy-free diet. Breast milk can take up to 72 hours to become milk protein-free. People can also feed their babies a hypoallergenic formula.

Reflux may improve as a result of treating colitis, although some reflux may not be related to the allergic process.

Conclusion

Colitis is a condition in which the lining of the colon or large intestine becomes inflamed. The colon’s lining can become inflamed for a variety of reasons. Infection is the most common cause of colitis. Chronic colitis is most commonly caused by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The symptoms of several types of colitis overlap. Inflammation of the intestinal lining is present in all forms of colitis.

Depending on the type and severity of colitis, many treatments are available.

Sources:

  • https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/a/allergic-colitis
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541037/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542231/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4442720/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/colitis
  • https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/17562848211023399
  • https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/66/7/e1/4855916?login=true
  • https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/microscopic-colitis
  • https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/overview
  • https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/microscopic-colitis/symptoms-causes
  • https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/microscopic-colitis/treatment
  • https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/imj.13027
  • https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/treatment-options

About the author

Obianuju Chukwu

She has a degree in pharmacy and has worked in the field as a pharmacist in a hospital. Teaching, blogging, and producing scientific articles are some of her interests. She enjoys writing on various topics relating to health and medicine, including health and beauty-related natural treatments, the nutritional worth of various foods, and mental wellness.