Colitis

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

Causes of Colitis

Colitis can have many different causes, including:

See also:

Colitis Symptoms

Symptoms can include:

Tests and Exams

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:

Treatment of Colitis

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.

Prognosis (Outlook)

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

Potential Complications

When to Contact a Health 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 of Colitis

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

Related Images

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- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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