Colitis: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Colitis is inflammation of the lining tissues of the large intestine (colon). People suffering from colitis may have typical symptoms and signs that include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. Some types of colitis may be associated with bloody diarrhea. Colitis can be part of a disease that affects other parts of the body, causing fever, chills, fatigue, malaise, and dehydration symptoms (weakness, decreased urine output). Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that has other manifestations in the body, including mouth ulcers, joint swelling, and skin inflammation.

Causes of colitis

Colitis can be caused by infections, loss of blood supply, or chronic diseases. Allergic reactions can also cause colitis. Chronic causes of colitis include inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Loss of blood supply to the colon can be due to atherosclerosis, blood clot, or blood vessel disease. A number of different infections can cause colitis. Bacteria that can cause colitis include Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Clostridium difficile, Escherichia coli, Yersinia, Chlamydia, Neisseria, and tuberculosis.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/25/2017

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