Colitis (cont.)

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When should I contact my doctor about colitis?

Diarrhea is a common symptom of colitis. It, is usually self-limited, and resolves on its own with supportive care, including rest and a short course of a clear fluid diet. However, if the diarrhea persists for more than three weeks, if there is blood in the stool, or the person has signs of dehydration, medical care should be obtained.

  • Blood in the stool is never normal and should always be evaluated. Common causes of blood in the stool include hemorrhoids; however, other serious causes of bleeding need to be investigated. Colitis is not the only cause of rectal bleeding. Others causes include diverticular disease of the colon (diverticulitis), colon polyps, anal fissures, and cancer.
  • Chronic diarrhea can lead to dehydration, and if severe enough, dehydration may require treatment with fluids. The symptoms of dehydration may include:
    • lightheadedness (dizziness) especially when changing from a sitting or lying position to standing position (orthostatic hypertension)
    • weakness,
    • dry mouth, dry eyes, and
    • decreased output of urine.
  • High fever associated with diarrhea may be a warning sign that a significant infection may be present.
  • Abdominal pain is not normal, and while diarrhea may be associated with mild cramps, the presence of increasing abdominal pain, requires need to seek prompt medical attention.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/4/2015

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