Colitis
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Colitis

Definition

Colitis is swelling (inflammation) of the large intestine (colon).

Causes

Colitis can have many different causes, including:

See also:

Symptoms

Symptoms can include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms, including:

  • How long you have had the symptoms
  • How severe your pain is
  • How often it occurs
  • How long it lasts
  • How often you have diarrhea
  • Whether you have been traveling

The health care provider can diagnose colitis by inserting a flexible tube into the rectum (flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy) and evaluating specific areas of the colon. Biopsies taken during these tests may show changes related to inflammation.

Other studies that can identify colitis include:

  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Abdominal MRI
  • Abdominal x-ray
  • Barium enema

Treatment

Treatment is directed at the cause of disease (infection, inflammation, lack of blood flow, or another cause).

See the conditions listed above for specific recommendations.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The prognosis varies with each disease. See particular conditions listed above.

Possible Complications

  • Bleeding
  • Hole in the colon
  • Toxic megacolon
  • Sore (ulceration)

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain that does not get better
  • Blood in the stool or stools that look black
  • Diarrhea or vomiting that does not go away
  • Swollen (distended) abdomen

Prevention

Prevention depends upon the cause of colitis. See the specific condition.



Review Date: 10/16/2011
Reviewed By: George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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