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What Is Colonitis?

author image Casey Holley
Casey Holley is a medical writer who began working in the health and fitness industries in 1995, while still in high school. She has worked as a nutrition consultant and has written numerous health and wellness articles for various online publications. She has also served in the Navy and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in health administration from the University of Phoenix.
What Is Colonitis?
Close-up of a stethoscope around a doctor's neck. Photo Credit ERproductions Ltd/Blend Images/Getty Images

Colonitis is another name for colitis, which is an inflammation of the large intestines (bowel) that is sometimes classified under the general term inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). According to Cedars Sinai Medical Center, this condition is often confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It goes on to state that while the symptoms of both IBD and IBS are similar, the distinction between to the two conditions is made in the way the disease affects the body. IBD is an autoimmune disease that can lead to the bowel becoming narrow due to the inflammation and ulcers may form in the large intestine. With IBS, there isn’t a known cause, and it is considered a general disorder of the intestinal tract.


The U.S. National Library of health lists seven types of colitis: ulcerative colitis, ischemic colitis, pseudomembranous colitis, necrotizing enterocolitis, cryptosporidium enterocolitis, Crohn’s disease and CMV colitis. Each type has some symptoms that vary from the other types, the diagnostic procedures can vary with each type and the treatment plan is developed according to the type of colitis.


According to the U.S. National Library of Health, inflammatory disorders such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can cause colonitis. Other causes include radiation to the bowel, infections of the bowel and restricted blood flow to the bowel.


The general symptoms of colitis include flatulence, diarrhea that may be blood-streaked, abdominal pain and bloating, and dehydration. However, there are some other symptoms of some specific types of colitis. Ulcerative colitis can also cause nausea, vomiting, fever, tenesmus, weight loss and joint pain, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The Mayo Clinic states that ischemic colitis can cause an urgent need to defecate and may cause severe pain on the lower left side of the abdomen. Pseudomembranous colitis can cause fever, fecal urgency and/or pus or mucous in your stool. Necrotizing enterocolitis can cause lethargy, states the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Cryptosporidium enterocolitis can cause malnutrition and malaise. Crohn’s disease can cause a skin rash, joint pain, swollen gums, fistulas and eye inflammation. CMV colitis may cause fever.


There are numerous ways to diagnose colitis; however, a colonoscopy is usually ordered. Sometimes, a doctor will do a biopsy on the tissue from the colon. Barium enemas, CT scans, MRIs and X-rays may also be used to diagnose the condition. Other tests, such as Esophagogastroduodenoscopy or stool cultures may also be ordered to make a definitive diagnosis.


According to the U.S. National Library of Health, the exact treatment plan depends upon the type of colitis. Dietary changes, pain medications and/or anti-diarrhea medications are also used to treat some types of colitis. If dehydration is a problem, intravenous fluids may be started; however, cases of mild dehydration may be treated with an electrolyte solution.

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