Colitis is a term used to describe a number of conditions involving inflammation or infection of the colon (the first part of the large intestine).
Acute colitis is caused by infection with bacteria, typically Campylobacter, or by amoebae. It is usually contracted by contaminated food as a result of poor hygiene and inadequate food preparation. The individual will suffer with frequent, watery, diarrhea that may contain mucus or in severe cases some traces of blood. They may also suffer with episodes of vomiting and abdominal cramps. If left untreated, the individual may be in danger of dehydration and in severe cases perforation of the bowel may occur.
Treatment includes antibiotics to prevent further infection and clear fluids with electrolytes to prevent dehydration. In the severe case of a perforated bowel, surgery would be required.
Ulcerative colitis is another acute form of colitis, although it is often subject to long term chronic relapses. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, but has been associated with diet or exposure to cold damp conditions. An inflammatory condition, the symptoms include fever and frequent diarrhea containing blood, mucus and pus.
Treatment includes a bland diet and bed rest and in some cases corticosteroids may be used to control diarrhea. In more severe cases, surgical intervention may be required to remove the affected portion of colon, after which the condition is effectively cured. If left untreated a severe episode could result in peritonitis.
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