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Symptoms of Colitis

Approximately 2 million people in the United States suffer from some form of colitis–an inflammation of the colon. It usually presents itself before age thirty, though it can develop in individuals at a later stage in life. Both men and women equally suffer from the condition, but it appears to be linked to heredity and thus occurs with frequency in some families.

  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding
  • Weightloss
  • Rectal Spasms
  • Rectal Bleeding
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Tenderness in the Abdomen
  • Swelling of the Colon Tissue
  • Redness of the Colonic Tissue (Erythema)
  • Frequent Urgency of Bowel Movements
To confirm the condition, a series of tests must be completed with the most common being X-rays although tests for the presence of blood or pus in the stool are also necessary. A colonoscopy or a sigmoidoscopy is usually performed to achieve diagnosis. Other tests may involve studying blood chemistry or taking stool cultures.

Types of Colitis

Many different types exist, all of which affect the digestive system, and they include:
  • Crohn’s
  • Ischemic
  • Ulcerative
  • Diversion
  • Chemical
  • Infectious
  • Atypical
  • Microscopic
The primary difference between these various forms is the method of its development, though each form may also affect different parts of the colon. Parasitic infections or environmental toxins can cause other forms as well.

Sometimes, the terms colitis and ulcerative colitis are used interchangeably, though the two are not necessarily the same. The former is a general term used to describe inflammation of the colon, while the latter is a more specific form resulting in ulcers along the top layer of the intestinal lining. These ulcers form when the cells of this lining are destroyed by the inflammation. A person suffering from the ulcerative form may also experience bleeding from the ulcers, which can also produce mucus and pus.

Determining the specific form from which a person suffers can be difficult because they have comparable symptoms. For example, Crohn’s (commonly referred to as Crohn’s Disease) differs from the ulcerative type in that it causes inflammation deeper within the intestinal wall and in many areas rather than just the colon itself.

Irritable bowel syndrome is also commonly confused with ulcerative colitis because of the similarity of its symptoms. Unlike the ulcerative form, however, Irritable Bowel Syndrome doesn’t cause inflammation but is characterized by spasms within the colon itself.

Health Effects

If left untreated, this condition can quickly worsen. If this occurs, abdominal pain may become severe and can lead to shock. Approximately half of individuals who develop this condition require surgery. For other people, the condition may be treated successfully with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications and sometimes steroids may help.

If left untreated, the condition can develop into significant health problems influencing many seemingly unrelated areas of the body including:

  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Joints
  • Skin Rashes
  • Vision (Eye Pain)
  • Neck & Lower Back (Muscle Spasms)

For these reasons, it is important to consult with a qualified doctor immediately if you notice any of the symptoms.

Treatment for Colitis

Dietary changes, such as increasing fiber in the diet and drinking more water, can be effective forms of treatment. Reducing your intake of carbohydrates, dairy and other lactose-containing products, soft drinks and other caffeinated beverages can also be beneficial. Engaging in regular, stimulating exercise helps maintain the body in multiple ways including digestive health. A colon cleanse will also help detoxify your colon.

Also, try to avoid stress in your life. Keep yourself mentally and emotionally connected to friends, family, and activities you enjoy since the body functions better if it’s not dragged down by negativity. Start implementing some of these positive lifestyle changes and you’re sure to reap the benefits!

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