Colitis – what it is

Colitis is a term used to describe different types of inflammation of the large intestine. The possible causes for the appearance of colitis are the most diverse, for example infections, insufficient blood supply (ischemia) and autoimmune reactions.

Inflammation of the lining of the colon is the cause of colitis. The mucosa is a layer of cells that lines the inner wall of the large intestine.

On the mucous membrane there are intestinal hairs through which water and electrolytes are absorbed from the intestinal contents and it hardens.

Glands on the mucous membrane secrete mucus that facilitates the movement of waste products from digestion into the lumen of the large intestine.

As with other organs, the large intestine is supplied with rich oxygen and nutrients through the arteries.

And the veins take away carbon dioxide and lactic acid from the large intestine. Diseases that reduce blood supply to the large intestine may also cause its inflammation.

What are the symptoms of colitis

The most common symptoms of colitis are abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Other symptoms that do not always occur with colitis are:

  • Presence of blood in the stool – diarrhea can sometimes lead to hemorrhoids that start to bleed. However, the presence of blood in defecation or stool is not a common condition and you should definitely consult your doctor.
  • Tenezmus is also possible – a constant urge to defecate;
  • Pains in the abdomen may be paroxysmal and appear immediately before the urge to defecate;
  • It is possible that the pains in the abdomen to be constant;
  • Other symptoms of inflammation are also likely, such as increased body temperature, chills. As they vary depending on the cause of colitis.

What are the causes

  • Infectious colitis – viruses and bacteria can to cause colon infections. Most of them are classified as food poisoning. The bacteria that are the most common causes are Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Shigella.
  • Parasites such as giardia can cause diarrhea. The parasite enters the body by swallowing contaminated water.
  • Pseudomembranous colitis is caused by the bacterium ClostridiumDifficile. This type of colitis is common among people who have recently treated an infection with antibiotics. The antibiotic disrupts the intestinal balance by destroying some of the beneficial bacteria and this causes an overgrowth of Clostridium bacteria. They produce toxins that cause diarrhea accompanied by fever. The stools released during diarrhea usually do not contain blood.
  • Ischemic colitis – can occur with atherosclerosis of the arteries that supply blood to the large intestine.

Colitis treatment

Colitis treatment depends on the cause.

In infectious viral colitis, treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and drinking more fluids to avoid dehydration. With viral infections, conditions are created for the body only to cope with them.

For bacterial infections, at the doctor’s discretion, you can switch to maintenance therapy without taking antibiotics and after some time the infection subsides.

An infection with the bacterium ClostridiumDifficile requires aggressive therapy with strong antibiotics, as the bacterium mutates very quickly and is currently resistant to most antibiotics.

Combination therapy is often used in Crohn’s disease and ultraserous colitis. Initially, anti-inflammatory drugs are used, and if they do not give the desired effect, drugs that suppress the immune system are added to the therapy.

In ischemic colitis: fluids are initially given intravenously in order not to strain the intestines and prevent dehydration.

How to Prevent Colitis

Preventing colitis requires attention to several different aspects of health and lifestyle. In this text, we will look at the different types of colitis and how we can protect ourselves from them.

  1. Infectious colitis and hygiene: Infectious colitis is often caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites that are spread through contaminated food and water. To protect yourself from infectious colitis, it is important to maintain excellent personal hygiene. Regular hand washing with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet and before eating, can reduce the risk of infectious colitis. Also, avoid eating raw or poorly prepared foods, especially in areas with poor hygiene.

  2. Hereditary colitis (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis): Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory bowel diseases that can be caused by hereditary factors. In practice, it is difficult to completely protect yourself from them if you have a family history of these diseases. However, it is important to be informed about the symptoms and the risks associated with them and to consult a doctor if you notice unusual symptoms such as diarrhea, blood in the stool, abdominal pain and the like.

  3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle: A healthy lifestyle can be a key factor in preventing various types of colitis. Proper nutrition, physical activity and avoiding alcohol and cigarette abuse can support gut health and reduce the risk of developing different types of colitis.

  4. Maintain a healthy diet: To prevent colitis, include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber-rich foods in your daily diet. These foods can support gut health and maintain balance in gut flora. Also, avoid excessive consumption of processed foods rich in sugars and fats, which can impair bowel function and increase the risk of colitis.

  5. Regular medical examinations: Regular medical examinations are essential for early detection and management of different types of colitis. Talking to your doctor and getting the relevant tests can help with early stage diagnosis and treatment, which can improve the prognosis of the disease.

Always consult your doctor for advice and regular medical check-ups to maintain optimal gut health and overall well-being.

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