Skip to Content
Is it Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency? Get more info



Colitis is irritation or inflammation of your colon (intestine). Colitis may be caused by an ulcer or problem with your immune system. Bacteria, a virus, or a parasite may also cause colitis. The cause may not be known. You may have diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, or blood or mucus in your bowel movement.



  • Medicines may be given to decrease inflammation in your colon and treat diarrhea.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Keep a written record of your bowel movements. Include the color, form, and if they were bloody. Bring this to your follow-up visits. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Drink liquids as directed to help prevent dehydration. Good liquids to drink include water, juice, and broth. Ask how much liquid to drink each day. You may need to drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS contains a balance of water, salt, and sugar to replace body fluids lost during diarrhea.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. You may need to eat several small meals throughout the day. Avoid spicy foods, caffeine, chocolate, and foods high in fat.
  • Start to exercise when you feel better. Regular exercise helps your bowels work normally. Ask about the best exercise plan for you.

Prevent colitis:

  • Clean thoroughly. Wash your hands in warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after you handle food. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a diaper, or touch an animal. Rinse fruits and vegetables in running water. Clean cutting boards, knives, countertops, and other areas where you prepare food before and after you cook. Wash sponges and dishtowels weekly in hot water.
  • Cook food all the way through. Cook eggs until the yolks are firm. Use a meat thermometer to make sure meat is heated to a temperature that will kill bacteria. Do not eat raw or undercooked chicken, turkey, seafood, or meat.
  • Store food properly. Refrigerate or freeze fruits and vegetables, cooked foods, and leftovers.
  • Drink safe water. Drink only treated water. Do not drink water from ponds or lakes, or from swimming pools that do not contain chlorine. Drink bottled water when traveling.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms get worse or do not go away.
  • You have a fever, chills, cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • You have sudden weight loss.
  • Your abdomen feels swollen or hard.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have sudden trouble breathing.
  • Your bowel movements are black or have blood in them.
  • You have blood in your vomit.
  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • You have any of the following signs of dehydration:
    • Dizziness or weakness
    • Dry mouth, cracked lips, or severe thirst
    • Fast heartbeat or breathing
    • Passing little to no urine

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.