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Classification & external resources
ICD-10 K50. - K52
ICD-9 558
OMIM 191390
DiseasesDB 31340
MedlinePlus 001125
eMedicine ped/435 
MeSH C06.405.205.265

Colitis is a digestive disease characterized by inflammation of the colon.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of colitis include pain, tenderness in the abdomen, fever, swelling of the colon tissue, bleeding, erythema (redness) of the surface of the colon, rectal bleeding, blood in stool, rapid weight loss, aches and pains within the joints, and ulcerations of the colon. Common tests which reveal these signs include X-rays of the colon, testing the stool for blood and pus, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy. Additional tests include stool cultures and blood tests, including blood chemistry tests. A high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is one typical finding in acute exacerbations of colitis.


Types of colitis include ulcerative colitis, Crohn's colitis, diversion colitis, ischemic colitis, infectious colitis, fulminant colitis, chemical colitis, microscopic colitis, lymphocytic colitis, and atypical colitis.

A well-known subtype of infectious colitis is pseudomembranous colitis, which results from infection by a toxigenic strain of Clostridium difficile. Parasitic infections can also cause colitis.

Any colitis with a rapid downhill clinical course is known as fulminant colitis. In addition to the diarrhea, fever, and anemia seen in colitis, the patient has severe abdominal pain and presents a clinical picture similar to that of septicemia, where shock is present. Approximately half of these patients require surgery.

Irritable bowel syndrome, a separate disease, has been called spastic colitis or spastic colon. This name causes confusion, since colitis is not a feature of irritable bowel syndrome.


Treatment of colitis may include the administration of antibiotics and general anti-inflammatory medications such as Mesalamine or its derivatives, steroids, or one of a number of other drugs that ameliorate inflammation. Surgery is sometimes needed, especially in cases of fulminant colitis. Surgery usually entails removing the colon and bowel and creating a "pouch" with portions of the small intestine.

Changes in diet can be effective at treating the symptoms of colitis and easing the side effects. These can include reducing the intake of carbohydrates, lactose products, soft drinks and caffeine. This approach has been championed by Elaine Gottschall.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Colitis". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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