A Brief Overview Of Colitis
Colitis, more formally known as Ulcerative Colitis, is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It can be difficult to diagnose because of the similarity of symptoms to other intestinal disorders and IBDs such as Crohn's disease. The main difference is that Crohn's disease causes inflammation deeper within the intestinal wall and usually occurs in the small intestine, although it can occur anyway along the digestive tract from mouth to anus, whereas Colitis causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine. The inflammation is usually found in the rectum and lower portion of the colon, but it can effect the entire colon.
Colitis can affect people of any age, but generally symptoms start between 15 and 30. Children and teenagers sometimes develop the disease but it is less common, as are sufferers over 50. The inflammation within the intestines causes diarrhea, as the colon empties more frequently. Ulcers appear where the inflammation has killed the cells lining the colon, which then bleed and produce pus.
Like Crohn?s disease, the cause of Colitis has yet to be determined. The current thinking is that it?s a reaction by the immune system to a virus or bacterium. People suffering with colitis tend to have abnormal immune systems, but what is unclear is whether this is the cause or an effect of the disease. It has been proven, however that Colitis is not caused by stress or through food allergies, however these factors may in fact be a trigger for some people already suffering with the disease.
The symptoms most commonly reported by sufferers of colitis are abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. However, sufferers may also experience fatigue, weight loss, a suppressed appetite, bleeding from the rectum and can become deficient in essential nutrients.
Diagnosing Colitis can be tricky due to its similarity to other IBDs. Therefore, a thorough physical exam and series of tests are usually required. Blood tests are carried out to help identify anemia, or high white blood cell count, which usually signifies inflammation within the body. Stool samples are commonly checked for evidence of blood or infection. You may have to have a colonoscopy and/or biopsy, which involves taking a sample of tissue from the lining of the colon. Another possibility is a barium enema x-ray of the colon. This involves filling the colon with barium solution and then taking x-rays to highlight any ulcers or inflammation.
The main treatment option for sufferers is medication, however depending on the serious of the disease surgery may be required to remove the colon. For some people, watching what they eat and avoiding known triggers can lead to a reduction in symptoms or remission. Although, for most people the symptoms return, with surgery being the only known cure.
About the Author: Kirsten Whittaker has an interest in Colitis. To access more articles on Colitis or Crohn?s Disease click on the following link ? http://www.crohnsdiseaseguide.info/crohnsdisease-articles/ or for additional Crohn?s information and resources go here - http://www.crohnsdiseaseguide.info