Colitis (also called ulcerative colitis) is an acute or chronic inflammation of the membrane lining the colon (your large intestine or bowels) producing sores, called ulcers, in the top layers of the lining of the large intestine. It can be recognized using flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. In both of these tests, a flexible tube is inserted in the rectum, and specific areas of the colon are tested. Colitis may be acute (lasting only a few days) or chronic(lasting weeks or even many months) and may result in bleeding, ulceration, perforation (a hole in the colon). It is best managed when its cause has been determine and a specific treatment can be utilized.
Symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal bloating, increased intestinal flatulence, and bloody stools and can return in up to 20% of people with this disorder, thus requiring treatment with antibiotics to be repeated. Colitis can be difficult to make a diagnosis because its symptoms are liken to other intestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn disease (also called Crohn’s disease). The 2 most common signs are abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. About half of the people diagnosed with the disease have moderate symptoms. It is not caused by emotional distress or sensitivity to certain foods or food products, but these factors may trigger symptoms in some persons. The stress of living with colitis may also bring about a worsening of symptoms. Some people have remissions periods when the symptoms leave for months or even years. Occasionally, symptoms are severe enough that a person must be hospitalized.
Treating colitis depends on the severity of the malady and usually starts with prescription anti-inflammatory medications, such as mesalamine (Rowasa or Canasa) and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), in order to lessen swelling. Treatment can also include taking nutritional supplements to restore natural growth and sexual development in children and teens. Therapy is directed at the underlying cause of the disease, Be it an infection, inflammation, lack of blood flow, or other reasons. The aim is to control the inflammation, reduce symptoms, and replace any lost fluids and nutrients. Treatment varies depending upon which parts of the colon are involved. Each person experiences colitis differently, so treatment is adjusted for each individuals need. Occasionly the doctor will recommend removing the colon if medical treatment fails or if the side effects of corticosteroids or other medication threaten the patients health.
If you are already being treated for inflammatory bowel disease or ibs, contact your physician if you experience any prolonged changes or pass blood in your stools. Also see your physician if you have any of these conditions: Diarrhea lasting more than 3 days, Severe abdominal or rectal distress, Signs of dehydration such as dry mouth, anxiety or restlessness, excessive thirst, little or no urination, Frequent loose bowel movements during pregnancy, More than one other person who shared food with you who has symptoms similar to yours, for example abdominal pain, fever, and diarrhea, Blood or mucus in your stool, Progressively looser bowel movements, Fever with diarrhea, Pain moving from the area around your belly to your right lower abdomen. You should go to the hospital’s Emergency Department for any of these reasons: Abdominal pain with fever, Severe acute attacks in people diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, Signs of dehydration in an old or very young person, Progression or appearance of new symptoms over a few hours, Blood in your stool along with fever and loose bowel movements. Your physician will consider the possible reasons for your colitis and any complications that need urgent treatment.
Colitis is an inflammation of the large intestine that can be caused by many different disease processes and is generally diagnose in young people, prior to reaching age 30. Up to 2 million persons in North America are estimated to have either ulcerative colitis or Crohn disease. Jewish people tend to have more incidences of of the disease than non-Jewish people. It affects men and women equally and appears to run in families, with reports of up to 20 percent of people with the disease having a family member or relative with ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease. Along with people of Jewish descent a higher incidence is also seen in caucasions. People with this disease usually have abnormalities of the immune system, but physicians do not know whether these abnormalities are a cause or a result of having the disease.
Many tests are employed to diagnose the disease. A colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy are the most accurate methods for making a diagnosis and ruling out other possible conditions, such as Crohns disease, diverticular disease, or cancer. Sometimes x rays utilizing a barium enema or CT scans are also used to diagnose colitis or its complications. There’s no known cure for it, but therapies are available that can dramatically minimize the signs and symptoms and even bring about a long-term remission. Your physician will decide which tests you need according to your symptoms, medical history, and clinical findings.
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