Colitis basically means that your colon is inflamed. A person can have an acute case of colitis or it can be a chronic and persistent condition.
There are several potential causes for this type of inflammation of the inner lining of the colon, and a few of the most common ones are listed below:
- Allergic reaction, usually to foods such as dairy-based items.
- Ischemia (a limited supply of blood getting to the colon).
- Excessive amount of collagen or lymphocytic white blood cells in the colon.
- Bowel-related diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Many clinical studies have shown that there is a significant link between dairy consumption and colitis. It is for this reason that many colitis patients are instructed to remove cow’s milk from their diet. In the same manner, if you find that certain types of foods trigger an episode or make symptoms worsen, it is advised that you remove that particular food group from your diet.
Crohn’s disease can begin anywhere in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract, and this can include the esophagus, colon, stomach, or small intestines. This disease can also be associated with abnormal portions of the GI tract to be interspersed with normal and healthy portions. This is referred to as “skip lesions”.
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis, which is an autoimmune disease can include increased blood in stool, constant diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Unlike Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis will begin in the rectum.
Common Symptoms associated with Colitis
The symptoms of colitis will vary, depending on the specific cause of the condition, and the severity of the condition. In some patients, the symptoms of Colitis have episodes of flare-ups, and their symptoms are not steady, in fact they may go without symptoms for months (even years). Approximately 10 out of every 100 individuals deal with colitis associated symptoms on a constant basis.
Abdominal pain, as well as bloating, fatigue, canker sores, irritation associated with the eyes, blood in stool, flatulence, and a low grade fever are a few of the more common signs and symptoms that are linked to Colitis. Diarrhea is also a symptom, and in severe cases of colitis, individuals may incur diarrhea more than a dozen times within a 24 hour period.
Some of the more uncommon symptoms can include an irregular heartbeat, high grade fever, and inability to properly breathe.
Treatment Options for Colitis
A trained medical profession will help you find the best treatment to reduce painful and annoying symptoms of colitis, because this does not affect everyone in the same manner.
An over-the-counter drug (such as Imodium) will help to alleviate mild cases of diarrhea, if not accompanied by severe pain in the abdomen and/or a fever.
Regardless of the base cause of the colitis, the first thing a doctor will do is to stabilize the vital signs of the patient. In addition, pain is the next thing to be addressed. Diarrhea brings on dehydration, so properly hydrating the patient is often times the next symptom that needs to be addressed.
Depending on the cause of the colitis, antibiotics are administered to reduce the length of the infection and attack bacteria. Steroids may be a treatment option, as this is said to accelerate the healing time of the colon.
Surgery is not usually one of the first considerations regarding Colitis treatment, but a short hospital stay may be necessary to monitor vital signs. In some cases, colitis can be an ongoing problem, so anti-inflammatory, as well as immunosuppressant drugs may be a regular regime to keep this chronic condition at a manageable state.
Removing the colon is a last resort and treatment option that is avoided, if possible. This type of surgery will not only cure ulcerative colitis, but it will also prevent colon cancer. It is said that individuals who have suffered with ulcerative colitis for more than seven (7) years, have an increased chance of getting cancer of the colon. It is for this reason, that regular screening for cancer is necessary, because any type of cancer is easier to treat when still in the early stages.