Colitis is inflammation of the inner lining of the colon. There are numerous causes of colitis including infection, inflammatory bowel disease, ischemic colitis, allergic reactions, and microscopic colitis.

  • Symptoms of colitis depend upon the cause and may include
    • abdominal pain,
    • cramping, and
    • diarrhea, with or without blood in the stool (one of the hallmark symptoms of colitis).
  • Associated symptoms depend upon the cause of colitis and may include
    • fever,
    • chills,
    • fatigue,
    • dehydration,
    • eye inflammation,
    • joint swelling,
    • canker sores, and
    • skin inflammation.
  • Blood in the stool is never normal and medical care should be sought for evaluation of the cause.
  • Depending upon the history and physical examination, further testing may be necessary to find the cause of colitis and may include blood tests (complete blood count, electrolytes, kidney function and inflammatory marker tests), urine and stool samples, colonoscopy, and barium enema.
  • Treatment of colitis depends upon the cause, and often is focused on symptom relief, supportive care, and maintaining adequate hydration and pain control. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat infectious causes of colitis. Some bacterial infections that cause colitis resolve without any treatment.
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