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Colitis

Colitis is swelling (inflammation) of the large intestine (colon).

Causes

Causes of colitis include:

Symptoms

Symptoms can include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. You will also be asked questions about your symptoms such as:

  • How long have you had the symptoms?
  • How severe is your pain?
  • How often do you have pain and how long does it last?
  • How often so you have diarrhea?
  • Have you have been traveling?

The health care provider can diagnose colitis by inserting a flexible tube into the rectum (flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy ) and looking at certain areas of the colon. You may have biopsies taken during this exam. Biopsies may show changes related to inflammation.

Other studies that can identify colitis include:

Treatment

Your treatment will depend on the cause of the disease.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outlook will vary depending on the cause of the problem.

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain that does not get better
  • Blood in the stool or stools that look black
  • Diarrhea or vomiting that does not go away
  • Swollen abdomen

References

Horn AE, Ufbert JW. Appendicitis, diverticulitis, and colitis. Emerg Med Clin N Am. 2011;29:347-368.

Updated: 10/13/2013

George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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