Colitis symptoms and treatment
Colitis is used to describe any condition which causes inflammation of the colon. There are many causes of colitis- ranging from infection, poor blood supply and autoimmune reactions. The colon plays a vital role in storage of water and fecal material. The colon also contains a large number of bacteria that are vital for survival and protect the body from other harmful bacteria.
The colon is divided into three parts, the descending or right colon, the transverse colon and the sigmoid or left colon. Each part of the colon plays a vital role in absorption and excretion of food. In simple as stools are processed they are moved on to the left colon and then stored before being excreted by the rectum. The colon also plays a vital role in secretion of potassium. The colon has a rich blood supply and a soft inner lining which often gets damaged. When this lining gets damaged, colitis results.
The various causes of colitis include infections like bacteria (E coli, salmonella, and shigella), excess use of antibiotics (pseudo membranous colitis) and ischemic colitis (loss of blood supply) may occur in people who have heart attacks, stroke or the blood vessels may become affected with atherosclerosis. The most common cause of colitis is inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis or crohn disease. The symptoms of colitis may include blood in the stools, painful bowel movements, abdominal pain, fevers, chills or weight loss. Some individuals may develop bloody diarrhea. The diagnosis of colitis depends on the duration of illness and severity of symptoms. Most prolonged cases of colitis are investigated using a variety of tests. Beside routine blood work, the physician may insert a flexible camera- like device from the rectum and look at the entire colon. Other radiological studies to investigate the colon include CT scans or a barium enema.
The treatment of colitis depends on the cause. Infectious colitis is usually treated with antibiotics, fluid hydration and rest. Inflammatory bowel disease requires a variety of treatment including surgery, corticosteroids and various medicated enemas. Individuals who develop ischemic colitis usually need aggressive hydration, bowel rest and sometimes surgery. In most cases of colitis, physicians generally do not give Imodium like medications because these medications can make the condition worse.
Surgery is sometimes used to treat Crohn, ulcerative colitis and ischemic colitis depending on the severity and response to conservative therapy. Individual who have severe colitis usually need admission to hospital for intravenous hydration and antibiotics. Infectious colitis is the most common colitis in the world but fortunately it can also be prevenetd by maintaining good hygiene and adequate sanitation.
Infectious colitis is usually an isolated medical event and once the symptoms have been treated no further care is required. However, patients with inflammatory bowel disease like crohn or ulcerative colitis require lifelong treatment.