Inflammation of the large intestine is referred to in medicine as colitis. Colitis can be a confusing term because it is often used interchangeably as a symptom and illness. There are different types and subtypes of colitis which further confuses the issue. While we have talked frequently about Inflammatory Bowel Disease you may not know about the other forms of colitis.
Check out these additional types of colitis and their definitions to help clear up any confusion.
Allergic colitis only occurs in infants. In this condition a food protein that baby is allergic to causes an immune response in the intestines. This irritation can create ulcerations in the intestines leading to fussiness, poor feeding, excessive gas, diarrhea or even blood in the stool. The most common culprit of allergic colitis is milk. Fortunately allergic colitis is easy to cure by avoiding the food that causes the reaction.
Microscopic Colitis got it’s name because of the need to examine tissue under a microscope to get an accurate diagnosis. There are two types of microscopic colitis, collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis. In collagenous colitis a thick layer of collagen forms in the tissue of the colon causing painful symptoms. Lymphocytic colitis occurs when white blood cells known as lymphocytes form in the intestinal tissue. Both forms of microscopic colitis are thought to be autoimmune and treatment is similar to IBD.
Infectious colitis occurs when a virus, bacteria or parasite invade the small or large intestine. Most of these infections occur because a person has consumed contaminated food or water. Symptoms of infectious colitis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and dehydration from numerous watery stools. This form of colitis subsides when the infection is resolved.
Ischemic colitis occurs when a portion of the colon looses it’s blood supply. This loss of blood causes inflammation of the tissue. Symptoms of ischemic colitis include: pain, fever and diarrhea. This type of colitis can be caused by high or low blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, bowel obstructions or even hernias. Treatment for ischemic colitis depends on limiting or removing the risk factor that caused the condition and treating any pain or dehydration.
No matter what form of colitis you suffer from there are treatments available. If you have any of these symptoms talk with your physician about proper diagnosis and treatment.
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.