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Colitis is swelling and irritation of your colon. Colitis may be caused by ulcers or a 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.


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 or your abdomen is swollen and feels hard.
  • You have any of the following signs of dehydration:
    • Dizziness or weakness
    • Dry mouth, cracked lips, or severe thirst
    • Fast heartbeat or breathing
    • Urinating very little or not at all

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 suddenly lose weight without trying.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines may be given to decrease inflammation in your colon and treat diarrhea.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her 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.

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, beans, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and fish. You may need to eat several small meals throughout the day instead of large meals. Avoid spicy foods, caffeine, chocolate, and foods high in fat.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider before you take NSAIDs. NSAIDs can cause worsen your symptoms if ulcers are causing your colitis.
  • Start to exercise when you feel better. Regular exercise helps your bowels work normally. Ask about the best exercise plan for you.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return for a colonoscopy or other tests. Write down how often you have a bowel movements and what they look like. Bring this to your follow-up visits. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Colitis (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex