Colitis and diverticulitis are two similar inflammatory bowel conditions. Colitis develops as a result of inflammation of the large intestine, also called the colon. Diverticulitis is the inflammation of an abnormal pouch found in the intestines, commonly the large intestine, states MedlinePlus. These two inflammatory bowel conditions share similar symptoms but colitis is generally more severe. Simply reviewing symptoms is not enough to make a proper diagnosis. A health care professional will likely conduct various studies to determine the true condition.
Pain in the abdomen is one symptom shared by both colitis and diverticulitis. Colitis stomach pain can be constant or intermittent, according to MedlinePlus. Diverticulitis pain is often focused in the left section of the stomach but it can appear in any area of the abdomen. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse further explains that diverticulitis can cause pain that is severe and comes on suddenly. The left side can be tneder to the touch. Pain can be mild at times and worsen over time. It can also come and go, much like colitis.
Bloating and Gas
Abdominal bloating and increased intestinal gas are common symptoms of colitis states, MedlinePlus. Bloating can feel as if excess air is built up inside the abdomen. This can lead to the stomach bulging out more than normal. Gas in the intestines can be painful and may cause increased flatulence.
Diarrhea and bloody stools are characteristic symptoms of colitis. When the intestines become inflamed the result can be increased contractions, which speeds the expelling of waste from the body. When food and waste leave the body quickly they are usually more liquid. Some mucus will be present with the diarrhea as the intestines attempt to soothe themselves. Diverticulitis can result in various bowel habit changes including cramping prior to or during a bowel movement, constipation and diarrhea.
Fever and Chills
Both inflammatory bowel conditions can cause fever or chills states, MedlinePlus. This is especially common when diverticulitis causes an infection.
Frequent loose stools can result in dehydration. This is a symptom associated with colitis, according to MedlinePlus. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, excessive thirst, dark urine or decreased urinary output.
Nausea and Vomiting
Diverticulitis commonly causes nausea and vomiting according, to MedlinePlus. Some patients will experience unintended weight loss from diverticulitis or colitis due to the increased bowel movements, vomiting and appetite changes. It is possible to have a reduced appetite from these and other symptoms including bloating and pain.
Is This an Emergency?
- Harvard Health: “Diverticular disease of the colon.”
- Hopkins Medicine: “FAQs about Ulcerative Colitis.”
- Mayo Clinic: “Diverticulitis."
- Mayo Clinic: “Colitis.”
- National Library of Medicine: “Colitis.”
- National Library of Medicine: “Diverticulitis.”
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Ulcerative Colitis.”
- Neil Stollman, MD, division chief of gastroenterology, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Oakland, Calif., associate clinical professor of medicine, division of gastroenterology, University of California San Francisco.