AskDefine | Define colitis

Dictionary Definition

colitis n : inflammation of the colon [syn: inflammatory bowel disease]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. inflammation of the colon.



inflammation]] of the colon
  • Finnish: paksunsuolen tulehdus
  • Italian: colite





Extensive Definition

Colitis is a chronic digestive disease characterized by inflammation of the colon.
Colitis is one of a group of conditions which are inflammatory and auto-immune, affecting the tissue that lines the gastrointestinal system (the large and small intestine). It is classed as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), not to be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Signs and symptoms

General signs and symptoms of colitis include pain, tenderness in the abdomen, depression, rapid weight loss, aches and pains within the joints, fatigue, changes in bowel habits (increased frequency), fever; swelling of the colon tissue, erythema (redness) of the surface of the colon, ulcers on the colon (in ulcerative colitis) which can bleed, mucus in the stool, blood in stool and rectal bleeding. Diarrhea may present itself, although some forms of colitis are constipation so the stool and bowel movements can appear "normal".
Other symptoms may include: gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, reflux, Gastro oesophageal reflux disease (GORD or GERD when using the alternative spelling esophageal), cramps, urgency and many other uncomfortable aches in the gastrointestinal system.
Common tests which reveal these signs include X-rays of the colon, testing the stool for blood and pus, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy. Additional tests include stool cultures and blood tests, including blood chemistry tests. A high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is one typical finding in acute exacerbations of colitis.


Types of colitis include ulcerative colitis (UC), Crohn's colitis, diversion colitis, ischemic colitis, infectious colitis, fulminant colitis, collagenous colitis, chemical colitis, microscopic colitis, lymphocytic colitis, and atypical colitis.
A well-known subtype of infectious colitis is pseudomembranous colitis, which results from infection by a toxigenic strain of Clostridium difficile (c-diff). Parasitic infections can also cause colitis.
Any colitis with a rapid downhill clinical course is known as fulminant colitis. In addition to the diarrhea, fever, and anemia seen in colitis, the patient has severe abdominal pain and presents a clinical picture similar to that of septicemia, where shock is present. Approximately half of these patients require surgery.
Irritable bowel syndrome, a separate disease, has been called spastic colitis or spastic colon. This name causes confusion, since colitis is not a feature of irritable bowel syndrome.


Treatment of colitis may include the administration of antibiotics and general non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) medications such as Mesalamine (Asacol) or its derivatives; Azathioprine or similar immunosupressants; steroids such as prednisolone and prednisone; one or several of a number of other drugs that ameliorate inflammation and pain (buscopan). As it is a chronic condition the objective is "remission" rather than cure.
Surgery is required only when the patient suffers from regular or permanent flare ups, especially in cases of fulminant colitis. Surgery usually entails removing the colon and bowel and creating a "pouch" with a portion of the small intestine, which in time adopts the characteristics of the colon.
Medical opinion is divided on the role of diet in colitis and IBD. Anecdotally, some sufferers find a change in diet can be effective at treating the symptoms of colitis and easing the side effects. These can include reducing the intake of carbohydrates, lactose products, soft drinks, caffeine and spicy foods. This approach has been championed by Elaine Gottschall.
colitis in German: Kolitis
colitis in Esperanto: Kojlito
colitis in French: Inflammation du colon
colitis in Indonesian: Kolitis
colitis in Lithuanian: Kolitas
colitis in Dutch: Colitis
colitis in Japanese: 大腸炎
colitis in Russian: Колит
colitis in Swedish: Kolit
colitis in Turkish: Kolit

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abdominal hernia, adenoiditis, adrenitis, appendicitis, arteritis, arthritis deformans, arthritis fungosa, arthritis pauperum, atrophic arthritis, atrophic inflammation, blennorrhagic arthritis, brain fever, bronchitis, bunion, bursitis, capillaritis, carditis, catarrh, catarrhal inflammation, cerebellitis, cerebral meningitis, cerebritis, cerebrospinal meningitis, chronic infectious arthritis, chronic inflammation, cirrhotic inflammation, climactic arthritis, clitoritis, collagen disease, conjunctivitis, cystitis, degenerative arthritis, diffuse inflammation, diverticulitis, diverticulosis, duodenal ulcer, duodenitis, encephalitis, endocarditis, enteritis, equine encephalomyelitis, esophagal ulcer, esophagitis, exudative inflammation, fibroid inflammation, focal inflammation, gastritis, gingivitis, glossitis, gonococcal arthritis, gonorrheal arthritis, gonorrheal rheumatism, gout, gouty arthritis, hemophilic arthritis, hepatitis, hiatal hernia, hyperplastic inflammation, hypertrophic arthritis, hypertrophic inflammation, infectional arthritis, infectious hepatitis, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, laryngitis, lumbago, lumbar rheumatism, mastoiditis, megacolon, meningitis, menopausal arthritis, metastatic inflammation, metritis, milk leg, mucous colitis, mumps meningitis, myelitis, necrotic inflammation, nephritis, neuritis, obliterative inflammation, ophthalitis, ophthalmia, orchitis, osseous rheumatism, osteitis, osteoarthritis, osteomyelitis, otitis, ovaritis, paradental pyorrhea, penitis, peptic ulcer, pericarditis, periodontitis, peritonitis, pharyngitis, phlebitis, podagra, polyp, proliferative arthritis, prostatitis, pyonephritis, pyorrhea, pyorrhea alveolaris, reactive inflammation, rheumatism, rheumatiz, rheumatoid arthritis, rhinitis, sclerosing inflammation, seroplastic inflammation, serous inflammation, serum hepatitis, simple inflammation, sinusitis, spastic colon, specific inflammation, stomach ulcer, subacute rheumatism, suppurative arthritis, suppurative inflammation, syphilitic arthritis, tennis elbow, testitis, thrombophlebitis, tonsilitis, torticollis, toxic inflammation, traumatic inflammation, tuberculous arthritis, tuberculous rheumatism, ulcer, ulcerative colitis, uratic arthritis, ureteritis, urethral arthritis, urethritis, uteritis, vaginitis, vertebral arthritis, visceral rheumatism, vulvitis, wryneck
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