What is colitis?
Colitis is swelling (inflammation) of the colon. The colon makes up most of the large intestine. It can be caused by different things, such as an infection or loss of blood flow in the intestine. Other causes are problems like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
What are the symptoms of colitis?
Symptoms may include fever, diarrhea that may be bloody, or belly pain. You may also have an urgent need to move your bowels or pain when you move your bowels. You may have bleeding from the rectum or weight loss.
Your symptoms may depend on the type of colitis you have. For example, microscopic colitis may cause watery diarrhea.
Sometimes symptoms go away on their own. If they don't go away, or if you have bleeding or severe pain, call your doctor right away.
How is colitis diagnosed?
You may need blood tests or a stool test. You also may need imaging tests like a CT scan. You may have a colonoscopy so that a doctor can look inside your colon. In some cases, the doctor may want to test a sample of tissue from the intestine. This test is called a biopsy.
How is colitis treated?
Treatment for colitis depends on the condition that is causing it.
- Antibiotics may be used to treat an infection.
- Diet changes may help with symptoms.
- Medicines can also help to relieve inflammation and control symptoms.
- In some cases, surgery to remove parts of the intestine may be needed.
When to seek medical attention
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- Your stools are maroon or very bloody.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have new or worse belly pain.
- You have a fever.
- You are vomiting.
- You cannot pass stools or gas.
- You have new or more blood in your stools.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- You have new or worse symptoms.
- You are losing weight.
- You do not get better as expected.