Everything You Need to Know About Colitis, a Painful Digestive Disease
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Your digestive health depends on your gut and if there’s anything wrong with any part of it then not only will food consumption become difficult but your overall health will also be affected. The large intestine or colon forms an integral part of your digestive system and colitis is a disease that can affect its function and cause many complications.
Colitis is an inflammation of the inner lining of the colon which causes many symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating and blood in the stool. Seeing blood in your stool can be particularly distressing - this makes colitis a disease that needs to be treated properly the first time it appears and to prevent it from ever occurring again. Chronic flare-ups of colitis can lead to ulcerative colitis, which is a very severe disease that can impair bowel function for life.
Causes of colitis
Colitis can be caused by bacterial, viral and parasitic infections. The gut already has a flora and fauna of its own, known as the gut microbiome, and the entry of harmful parasites like Shigella or E. coli can trigger inflammation associated with colitis. Low or lack of blood supply to the colon can also cause colitis. Colitis is linked to other diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Crohn’s disease.
A new study published in Science Translational Medicine suggests that excessive consumption of sugar may also be responsible for colitis as it can damage the gut microbiota. This is the reason why keeping a check on what you eat and how much of it you eat are key prevention strategies for colitis.
Symptoms of colitis
The following are some of the main symptoms of colitis. If these show up, you should consult your doctor without delay and get the tests they recommend immediately.
- Abdominal pain
- Stomach cramps
- Diarrhea, with or without blood in the stool
- Fever, with or without chills
- Eye and skin inflammation
- Joint swelling
- Canker sores
Treatment of colitis
The treatment of colitis will depend on the cause of the disease, which is why getting a proper investigation done on the recommendation of a doctor is vital. If the cause is identified to be bacterial, then antibiotics are prescribed. Oral rehydration is recommended as a method of primary care for colitis. If the abdominal pain is uncontrollable, then the doctor may prescribe pain medications. Antidiarrheal medications for colitis should not be taken unless the doctor prescribes it.
Avoiding solid foods and sticking to clear broths and soups is necessary. This helps deal with dehydration while also ensuring that your gut isn’t overly pressurized or damaged any further. If you take adequate care and follow the guidance of your doctor, recovery from colitis is likely to be quicker. However, if the symptoms persist or worsen, consult your doctor to make sure the disease doesn’t become life-threatening.
For more information, read our article on Ulcerative colitis.
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